After just returning from a great adventure holiday throughout North and Western Australia which included 31 locations (and lots of driving in between), it struck me just how visible a vision could be.
From the first instance of driving into a town you could see whether the town shared a great vision – from the way it branded and projected itself, to deeper issues of what was keeping the town viable and commercial. You could palpably see and feel the vision in distinct features like the architecture, engineering, environmental planning and the overall coherency of an area.
One of the best examples of this was Kununurra, a town near the border of Western Australia and Northern Territory. Its leaders oversaw the engineering of one of Australia’s largest man-made lakes to take advantage of the huge rainfalls of the wet season. They created Lake Argyle by tapping the Ord River, resulting in the deliberate flooding out of some of the homesteads and properties of the area, and is now so huge that it’s classified as an inland sea.
Lake Argyle normally has a surface area of about 1,000 square kilometres and its capacity exceeds 18 times the volume of water of Sydney Harbour (a vision in itself), feeding some 150 square kilometres of farmland which provides the majority of fruit and vegetables to West Australia, supports cattle farming and a number of timber forests which provide good export earnings. The local economy is also helped by customs ordering you to dump all fruit, vegetables and honey at the border requiring you to re-stock with local produce as soon as you arrive in town.
For those who have been out in this country you will understand the great vastness and harshness of the area and why I marvel at the vision of the local people, including those farmers, who gave up their land to ensure long term economic viability of the town for its inhabitants and future generations.
On the flipside there were plenty of towns we visited that were devoid of vision. The lack of vision ultimately tied to the lack of commercial viability of the town and an empty and unproductive feeling and sense of hopelessness one took away of its people.
Seeing these differences along the way certainly reinforced the importance of having a strong vision. This is as important to the long-term economic viability of a business as it is to the long-term economic viability of a town.
Having a strong vision that everyone is working towards, planning to ensure long term viability and relevance, ensuring today’s activities are in harmony with the long-term view, engaging people to own the vision with everyone creatively fulfilling it in their daily business and decisions, can only propel an organization forward.
There is some danger in today’s environment that by operating or continuously sending signals you are in a survival mode, that the future of your business can be put at risk. Particularly in cases where your employees may have lost sight of the vision and can not articulate or see where the business is heading beyond a “make the buck today” mindset which can lead to lots of compromise.
It may well be timely to step back and really check what your business is projecting externally.
From the first instance someone is in contact with your business, do they receive a strong sense of your vision – from the way you are branded to the way your business projects itself in all touch points, communications and interactions?
Do people understand what is keeping your business viable and commercial and what it is that you offer them?
Do your people communicate what you stand for, what they are representing, and how they can help the customer, the business and themselves be successful?
By ensuring your business vision is tangible and visible, it can turn it from being something you desire to something that you realize.