There are a lot of things you can measure. Vision is not one of them.

Vision can be qualified easily enough, but I think it is a mistake to quantify it. Let’s go back to Lowe’s vision statement, one I referred to in earlier posts in this series:

We will provide customer-valued solutions with the best prices, products, and services to make Lowe’s the first choice for home improvement.

There is no counting device or mechanism anywhere in that statement that one can measure. There are, however, targets that one can shoot for. “Best Prices” can be analyzed at any time and indeed should be because markets are never static, always changing. Indeed, I know for a fact that managers and specialists from Lowe’s visit Home Depot’s stored every day as do Home Depot’s reps at Lowe’s. There is nothing wrong with that. Price matching has a long history in American commerce.

“Best products” and “best services” and other targets have qualitative but no internal quantitative measurements. That’s because a company’s vision is something to be moving toward but never reached. We strive to get there but never want to say we have attained it. Thus, effective vision statements use qualifiers like best but not quantifiers.

However, do not think that measuring is irrelevant. It is not. One must, as mentioned above, determine what best means and when to determine that one’s prices, products, and/or services are indeed the best. Thus a vision should not say to sell $500,000,000 of product in one year. That is a goal best left to sales and accounting, an entirely different slice of the managerial and leadership function.

So what does one measure? Progress toward the vision and just how well the activities that make up the jobs actually do propel the company or organization toward it. Many times, too many times it does not. See illustration #1 above, an illustration I will use for the next several posts and fill in the blanks as we go along. The company vision defines the values we strive for, the attitude we manifest, and the position we wish to occupy.

Effective leaders then find ways to get there and that is what and how I will discuss in the next posts in this series. Vision tells you where you are heading and, as you have discovered, that is the easy part. The tough job is making certain that all the many things you do every day, all the many avenues you explore and projects you pursue, actually do move you and everyone else in the right direction.

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