The vision you and/or your company or organization have articulated sets up the target. How you get there is up to those in positions of leadership and management. However, it is not entirely up to you. It requires the agreement, cooperation, and participation of everyone.
The vision will not create itself. What is done today directly impacts what happens later.
-Colonel Bruce B.G. Clarke, in his paper “Strategic Vision,” delivered at the Carlisle Barracks: U.S. Army War College, 1994, wrote that:
“Strategic Vision is a mental image of what the future world ought to be like. (The prophet’s view). Development of a strategic vision is preceded by forecasting the actual, matter of fact, realistic and pragmatic future to create an estimate of what the future is likely to be. In doing this, the strategist looks at history, the current situation, and trends. Strategy is the crossover mechanism for moving from the world as forecasted to the world of our vision. Strategic vision provides direction to both the formulation and execution of strategy. It makes strategy proactive, rather than reactive, about the future.”
Note the last sentence. “It makes strategy proactive, rather than reactive, about the future.” It is not a wait and see what happens approach. Not at all! It demands that we as leaders take the initiative and develop over-arching plans that will move us, the company, and/or our department toward that vision we’ve so carefully articulated and so fervently embrace.
Proactivity reigns over reactivity. The military often admonishes that “hope is not a valid strategy.”
So what is?
Think strategically but act deliberately.
Jack Welch, former head of General Electric said that, “A strategy is something like, an innovative new product; globalization, taking your products around the world; be the low-cost producer. A strategy is something you can touch; you can motivate people with; be number one and number two in every business. You can energize people around the message.”
If you haven’t done so already, begin to see your role from a military perspective. You have an objective of what your world will be like when you win the war. Now, how are you going to win it?
Simply lobbing shells out there somewhere or throwing soldiers at the public is not nearly enough. Neither will positive thinking slogans work. To do so is to substitute hope for strategy.
It takes far more careful consideration of how to win the battle which should be done…and redone…and redone as time passes. But no action should be initiated nor should it be maintained in the “hope” that somehow someway it will get you to the goal.
Leadership is a proactive responsibility. I am going to guess that too many who read this are, when they examine their daily tasks, reactive. They go from one problem to another, solving one crisis after another, and putting out fires. The question is, does it make sense? Does it mesh with the overall strategies you’ve enacted? Solving problems can be good if those problems have arisen in the hand to hand combat of daily implementation of your strategic plan. But solving problems can be bad if those problems have not arisen from the tasks (Tactics) used to implement a strategy. If that’s the case, you’re living in the fantasy world of hope. Short-terms thinkers think and work by what rises and falls each day. Long-term strategizers deal with incidents as they arise but they maintain perspective. They know which targets to shoot at and which to leave alone.
Think strategically. Act deliberately.