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spike bullet June 2009 - Imagine a Vision and Make it Real 

They have a vision!
Make it real
Steps to translate the vision
Implications when raising customer expectations
Putting it all together
Resources (links, books, articles, the lighter side)

color bullet Imagine a Vision and Make it Real

By Baldwin Tom

They have a vision!

When Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak created their first Apple computers, they imagined that there would be an Apple computer in every home.  That was an audacious picture of a future vision!  Their mission, thereafter, was to make that vision a reality. 

Bill Gates envisioned Microsoft dominating the world market.  Microsoft continues to make that vision real.

A compelling vision is a powerful focal point to inspire efforts within an organization.  A vision depicts a desired future for the organization.  It becomes the super goal toward which the organization works as it carries out its mission.  It is about what one wants to become, a lofty destination.

Successful leaders have a picture of a desired future – a vision – that they share with their employees.  They use it to engage and to add meaning to daily work.  

While having a vision can be a powerful tool to inspire extraordinary effort, it can also be a hollow statement if it is not shared with employees and, especially, if not acted on.

Make It Real

The balance of this article describes how to convert a vision to tangible actions for the organization’s personnel that becomes meaningful for the organization.

Imagine a customer reading the following vision tagline from a Website: "to be the first called when a business needs help."  

The first thing that may come to the customer’s mind might be that this company (First Call) is a capable one, has good people and knows much about their areas.  They must have breadth of knowledge and experiences, they must be smart and intelligent, and they are a confident firm.  Being the first called also suggests that they may be a leader in their field with best practice capabilities.

What might the customer expect in a visit to First Call?  The expectation might be that the personnel will be friendly, confident, informative, and responsive.  The activity in the office will exude energy and imply a successful, quality oriented, customer centric business.  The impression might be that this business has well defined processes, clear methods, and customer tested approaches.

What might the customer expect of First Call’s products and services?  One might not be surprised to find that they are the best of class and of fair value.  What about the governance and structure of such a stellar organization?  There would be little doubt a visitor might expect the structure to support performance excellence, that there is recognition and rewards for a job well done.

Steps to Translate the Vision

The questions inherent in the above example are presented here together with commentary on this unique approach to make a vision real for everyone in an organization.

Before ever setting foot into First Call’s offices, one develops impressions about the organization by what it presents in written or visual form.  Imagine oneself as the customer and see what impression derives from the same vision.  Depending on one’s point of view, the impression will differ.  Nevertheless, this impression sets the stage for what else to expect.

With the impression formed good or bad one will set up expectations as to what will be found when visiting the business.  In our customer example above, one might expect to sense energy in the firm.  People would seem to move about with purpose.  This First Call company better meet those high expectations or the customer will wonder about the credibility and product/service offerings from First Call.

Processes and Procedures? 
The logical train of thought after ‘high expectations’ will be that the way things are done at First Call are undoubtedly efficient and effective.  This includes the communications between the customer and the company.  Are the contacts reflective of a ‘first to be called’ firm?  The customer will expect exemplary interactions with the personnel of First Call.

Products and Services? 
By the time the customer in our example comes face to face with the products and services, the best is now expected.  One would expect seeing framed letters of commendation and recognition for their customer service focus.

Implications When Raising Customer Expectations

If one has a public vision statement and is unaware what the customer "sees" in their mind, then there will be a disconnect between what the customer expects and what First Call delivers.  In order to be fully competitive in the marketplace, what is said and what is done needs to be coherent and fully aligned.

  • Processes may need to be improved or changed.  

  • Products and services may need to be enhanced, changed, or repackaged in order to meet expectations.  

  • Everyone at First Call needs to know what the customer expects.  

When one compares what the customer expects and what is currently being provided, will there be gaps in delivering on the expectations?  

Putting it all Together

Note that this exercise provides a way to consider what might be perceived as the ideal against what is the current state.  

This process touches on every aspect of an organization and every member of the business.  Such comparisons will help identify key gaps in product/service delivery at all stages of the creation process.  

What is needed to close gaps between the desired state and the current one?  

In order to make a vision real, it requires the participation and input from most  if not all —  members of the company.  

When this is done, every member of the company will fully appreciate the power of the vision made real.  More important, each member will know better their contribution to the success of the organization.

About the author, Baldwin H. Tom, CMC®  Former instructor in Strategic Thinking and Planning for the United Way of America; Past National Chair of the Institute of Management Consultants USA, 2004-2006.  Get free management downloads from (under Publications). 
©1999-2009. The Baldwin Group, Inc. All rights reserved.  Used by permission of the author.

  Internet Resources

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Related newsletter articles:
   February 2007 - Visioning for the Future
   April 1998 - Vision: Expanding Your Thinking
   August 2006 - Leadership Vision
   November 2001 - The Essence of Leadership
   February 1999 - Managers and Leaders
   April 2001 - Consulting Skills for Managers
   July 1998 - Developing and Using Intuition
   November 2007 - True Community

smiley graphic  The Lighter Side  


About our resource links:  We do not endorse or agree with all the beliefs in these links.   We do keep an open mind about different viewpoints and respect the ability of our readers to decide for themselves what is useful.

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