Into the Unknown
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Into the Unknown
Embracing personal vision-driven goals is counter intuitive because letting go of certainty doesn’t make sense.
Vision-engineering always takes individuals into the unknown.
Vision-driven goals can’t be achieved using current methods, current resources and current skill sets. Vision goes beyond the present. Vision always goes beyond comfort. If you know how to achieve your vision-driven goals, they aren’t vision-driven.
Two truths about vision-driven goals:
#1 – You’ve never achieved them before.
#2 – You can’t achieve them now.
S.M.A.R.T goals may be achievable but vision-driven goals aren’t.
Let me illustrate. My vision-driven goals for Leadership Freak originally included 500 email subscribers in the first year and 1,000 views per day. Those are numbers I pulled out of a hat. I thought they were unattainable. However, they became attainable so I upped the email subscriber count to 3,000 in the first year and the views per day to 2,000. Honestly, I’m still pulling numbers out of a hat. For me, they are uncomfortable numbers.
Reality check: Leadership Freak page views rapidly grew to an average of 400 to 600 per day, excluding weekends. However, over the last 6 weeks, LF page views leveled off. If I continue using current strategies I won’t achieve my vision-driven goals. I’m in the unknown and the unachievable. It’s exciting, challenging, uncomfortable, and motivating.
Vision-driven goals always pull you away from the known and push you into the unknown. Success depends on letting go of current strategies and embracing strategies that haven’t worked yet.
I think vision-driven goals may apply to individuals but not organizations. Organizationally, it’s not S.M.A.R.T. to pull numbers out of a hat. What do you think? What are other qualities of vision-driven goals?
I understand your logic on the illogicality of vision-driven goals, but I have a counter.
Now, I’m as logical as they come with a scientist background, but I also know that when I let go of logic and go with my flow down streets that I might otherwise have ignored, adventures happen.
Since ‘adventure’ is on of my key values, I have fun, feel at ease and let it happen.
If – and when – that leads towards goals (and, after all, who can adequately elucidate precisely whether a ‘goal’ is their true desire) that are attractive, then for me, what’s the harm and hey, maybe I’ll have joy in my life.
That, ironically, is never going to be that ‘SMART’ a goal, but it sure as heck feels good.
Thanks for your comment. I hear you encouraging me to chill. I could probably use that advise!
Always a pleasure,
Martin’s Website: http://www.supersuccessfulmanager.com/
I uploaded a comment a few minutes ago and it appears to have disappeared into ether. Is that possible?
Problem identified when I just tried something a second time. In both the original and my just-failed attempt, I included a link to another blog post. The link was shortened via cligs, so either the inclusion of a link or the inclusion of a cligs-related link appears to have been the problem. FYI
thanks… wish I was a techie!
Well, just in case, let’s try again. (And it was so good the first time! Maybe.)
Since large organizations are led by people, I believe vision-driven goals are still possible for those entities. Apple is perhaps one example where that’s the case, maybe Google is (was) another.
To some degree I protest the focus on numbers. Of course they are a necessary benchmark of company performance, a means for comparison, and a well established standard for the “outside world.” But the problem with numbers is that in most cases they tell you about the end of the process, not the activities which actually drive and predict success. (I realize fighting that battle would be a quixotic moment, so I won’t pursue it too vigorously!)
My little one-man band is based on vision-driven goals. On the numbers side I am aware of the income needed to keep my family in the style to which they’ve grown accustomed (sigh), but I prefer to focus on sustaining a level of client activity, a promising sales pipeline, and doing interesting and challenging work. I couldn’t begin to tell you with any precision how I’ll achieve these, but I do know I’ll keep thinking and working at it.
Oh and one other part of the vision? I gotta have fun.
Sorry about the “ether.” I didn’t see the original comment you posted. I hate when that happens.
Reading your comment made me think how numbers are shallow and processes are powerful.
I’m with you. The numbers I’ve chosen are simply a target that motivates me to break free from the past. The real power isn’t the number it’s the motivation to change a process, find a new procedure, and explore new channels.
Jeremy’s website: http://brombergllc.com/
Hi Dan. I couldn’t differ to agree that stepping into the unknown requires different strategies from the norm. Like Jeremy said, the vision has to be fun, I mean you have to enjoy the journey inbetween dreaming and attainment.
For me, a vision-driven goal also:
# is personal, not copied from a friend or colleague. I’m not gonna say dream of running a chain of hotels just because my best mate is doing so. There has to be a personal connection between myself and my vision.
# will have circumstances to overcome along the way, but will always prevail in the end.
So many organizations interchange the words Vision and Mission today that for most they have become synonymous in meaning and use. My mentor Russ Ackoff had an interesting take on Vision-Mission initiatives in organizations. He considered most mission statements as worthless – too many pious platitudes and meaningless superlatives.
Russ’ approach to creating a Vision centered on creating a specific verbally graphic description of a world that is better in some way for the organization, its members and other people.
Therefore Dan, rather than pulling subscribers and views per day numbers out of a hat as Vision-driven goals, how about describing exactly what it is you are trying to accomplish with Leadership Freak. Make sure this is a graphic description.
Once you have created a good draft vision, move on to creating your Mission – this is the “how” for achieving the vision. Now, what makes a good mission statement?
Mission Statement Attributes should:
1. be a formulation of Leadership Freak’s objectives that enables progress toward them to be measured,
2. differentiate Leadership Freak from other leadership blogs; It should establish the individuality, if not the uniqueness of the blog,
3. define the business that Leadership Freak wants to be in, not necessarily is in,
4. be relevant to all of Leadership Freak’s stakeholders, and
5. most importantly, be exciting and inspiring.
If you decide to go through this process, consider including your stakeholders in the creation of the Vision and Mission for Leadership Freak.
I’m hearing that thing about leaving numbers out – which is a a bit freaky even now for me, 9 years out of a performance driven, year-in-year out target based annual structure.
What I have recalled (now that you mention it) is a remarkable book by Ben Zander called ‘The Art of Possibility’. In Chapter 2 he encourages us to ‘take measurement out’ of our world and see what a difference it makes. Namely a world without numbers…
Thanks so much for reminding me of Ben Zander’s book. I read it years ago and you have convinced me to re-read his wisdom.
ditto to Jim, nice clip too.
thank you so much for that clip! Ben Zander is always such a wonderful speaker.
If anyone likes to see more, this one is one of the most popular on TED.com and a great reference for passionate leaders: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/benjamin_zander_on_music_and_passion.html
Hey Dan, this is getting exciting. As people are bringing in the issue of performance measurement, I think rather than look at the numbers only, I agree with what Jim says. In this instance you might consider at looking at how the balanced scorecard and the performance prism might help you in formulating your vision/mission and how you will measure its success.
Hi Dan, that is great progress though of course you are right doing the same things won’t grow it the way you would like. I think for most successful people the goal is always unattainable – we can be happy and proud – but always know there is a bit more in the tank. I think there is some confusion going on about vision and vision driven goals. as for mission – it, as Gary Hamel says, is just a big fat hairy audacious goal. The statement around the mission is all just fluff! The statement around your vision is the core.
Numerical and non numerical goals are equally valid.
I guide my clients wit this process – which brings values into the mix:
Set your values first, everything should stand or fall on these. Once set these should change every infrequently (and never on a wholesale basis). 4 or 5 core values should be sufficient to sharpen your focus as to what you are chasing.
Then picture your future; how it incorporates those values, and determine your view of this future – this is your vision.
The mission expresses your major goal 3- 10 years out, it must be aligned with your vision and your values, if it is not one or all of Values/Vision/ Mission is wrong.
Goals follow in logical sequence – anything from daily goals through to annual goals, again aligned to your values and vision, and in shorter view aligned to your mission.
Then all that you do is aligned with what you value and aligns you (directs you) towards these values; it will ensure you realise both your vision and mission.
This model works for the organisation as well as it does for the individual.
You can include or exclude plans/ ideas/ concepts simply by answering one question – Does this fulfil my core values, does it serve my vision?
If the answer is no, ditch it. It is that simple.
An interesting topic that requires serious thinking and visualization. It’s true for any organization to set vision-driven goals based on its current strengths and the level of success achieved. However, these goals will undoubtedly need the exploration of capabilities that can be built with management skills. Defining mission with good clarity and utilization of internal resources become quite essential to achieve the desired success in progression.
While on the personal front, vision-driven goals can be termed as ambition. The same can be achieved with existing abilities and developing new capabilities to remain successful.
Vision-driven approach calls for the courage [risk-taking attitude], firm belief in repeating success on a continuous basis with strong team of trustworthy people, confidence in sourcing the required funds on a credible reputation and beating competition with innovation.
– Dr. Mrunal K. Asher
ITM Business School, Kharghar,
You just hit on a nice topic I have been struggling with recently. I noticed (after reading ‘The 7 Habits’ that setting a vision and goals is great, but by now it seems to be giving me some tunnel vision and its really taking a lot of the fun out of it.
Like focusing on numbers as goals, focusing on any goal in particular makes it look like there is only one straight path to go there, while up to now the most valuable experiences have been those where I took a side step into something else. I went for example to Japan for study and I am here now for 3,5 years, I became treasurer of a sports club while I always hated money and economics, and so on. Just making sure I gain something from it, so that it is still (globally) getting me where I like it.
I guess it’s like companies that focus so much on the bottom line that they kill all the innovation required to remain successful in the future. Innovation is side-stepping, the big trick is of course to keep your vision in the back of your mind. Innovation probably would make your blog really successful too, but focusing on those numbers would definitely kick back in some ugly way.
Bytheway, I love your practical approach to leadership. It makes it pretty good for the average guy in the office too.
This may be a little basic to some reading; however, I find setting goals and personal vision a little illusive. Sometimes I am even unsure of what my “drive” is. Are vision and goals supposed to be driven out of our values?
You never did share whta your personal vision is – vision driven goals yes, but not vision.
I have been picking a bone on this “confusion” between vision, mission and values.
As I see it, you can apply the concept of values, mission and vision in both personal lives and organisations. We need clarity of how all three connects because it critically serves to sustain allignment in the execution of strategic plans. I see it as the glue that keeps people in perspective in “walking the talk”.
Firstly, you need to identify and set your VALUES straight. You should not start without identifying the ‘principles and rule” by which you would honour, at all costs”. I am sure we have seen the likes of Enron, AIG, Goldman to apprecaite why VALUES are important in any crusade. We must be able to distinguish between values and core competencies (differentiators) that separates one business from another. If you do not value Integrity and Ethics, any road to success will do. there is a major difference in valuing the wholistic interest of stakeholders than making shareholders happy.
The second to ascertain would define the MISSION – the reason for being or existence. Why are you in this business?. It can be a narrow scope of statement or comprehensively articulated for a larger audience. The following is how I helped craft, when I joined my current company as HR.
To deliver Quality products and services on time.
To create Innovative & Cost Effective solutions that make our customers competitive
To reward our stakeholders with optimum returns
To be the employer of choice in creating effective work systems and culture of excellence.
Now, some may argue it sounds like a strategies, goals or even activities. But, the purpose behind it was to create a powerful enough statements that would hold conviction and accountability against any “political” will to hijack the “intent” of the company. Of course, MISSIONS, unlike bedrock values, are not carved in stones and may be forced to alter due to shifting circumstances, such new products or collaborations and demands a review of the original MISSION.
Last but not least is VISION, which simply reflects your dream, ultimate goal or where you want to be in a certain timeline. Strangely enough, I have seen most VISIONS without the a timeline. A good sample of a VISION comes from David Parmenter, a guru on KPI. His VISION reads, “My vision is to change how leading organisations, around the world, measure and manage performance – by 2030”. Another classic is by JFK that became NASA’s VISION, “To put a man on the moon by 1970”.
I strongly feel there is nothing wrong with numbers, by itself. Numbers are there to provide referencing, benchmarking, transparency, clarity and to facilitate progress in the journey. The important thing is we do not become consumed, obsessed or victim to what it is.