Business Strategy

Why a Sticky Strategy Trumps a Vivid Vision

I was once speaking with the CEO of a Distribution company who was amidst their annual vivid vision session, an annual event in which the entire company contributed to forming what was to be the future vision for the company. Although there were definitely some strong points to her approach, the methodology was weak as it was isolated (involved only employees) and didn’t address the fundamental questions that every strategy needs to address namely, where, what and how.

Having a vision that is vivid (both clear and compelling) is great, but to put it bluntly too much “vivid” can result in too little “reality.”

I’m not trying to sound like a doubting Thomas here, but we already know that most strategies fail to be achieved as a result of ineffective or unrealistic actions. Shouldn’t we instead worry less about how vivid the vision is and instead focus our energy on creating a sound plan to get there?

I know, I know, it’s not near as sexy to discuss action plans, but wouldn’t you agree that this is where the rubber hits the road? I mean if it were me I’d rather achieve a blurry vision then miss a vivid one any day.

Fortunately the solution is quite simple. We need to create a strategy that is compelling and engages multiple stakeholder groups, placing the predominance of our energy into formulating the plans rather than the vision.

There are three key ingredients to my (not so) secret formula that my clients apply in order to formulate a vision that is powerful yet can also quickly be achieved:

  1. Interview customers: Where is their business going? What is their vision and how can you become a part of it?
  2. Interview suppliers: Where is the market heading? What new innovations are on the horizon and how can they help you?
  3. Interview employees: Where should the business improve? What needs to be done to introduce improvements and how should we go about doing so?

Notice in these questions the transition from where to what to how becomes very clear. This connects the vision to the objectives and in turn to the actions.

If you are about to create a vivid vision or a strategy of some sort, try opening up the stakeholders who contribute, using the transition questions above and you’ll find a much more relevant and achievable future.

As always if you’d like to discuss how these questions apply to your business or team you can email me at

© Shawn Casemore 2015. All rights reserved.

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