“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Every success, every achievement, every world-changing innovation starts in the same way.
Not as a complete blue-print of details, but rather as a compelling mental vision of what could be.
As far as we know, humans are the only species capable of using imagination to envisage futures that do not as yet exist in reality. Our minds can time travel and we are able to share these images of tomorrow amongst ourselves - forming communities around the metaphysical.
Our unique ability to generate and communicate a vision of the future is indeed God's greatest gift.
But as much as a strong, positive vision is a powerful catalyst for action, an absence of vision is a recipe for disaster.
Without a strong vision
In fact, when groups of people, in organisations or in society, exist without a powerful future vision to inspire them, by default they get drawn into the thick challenging issues of the present.
Fear intoxicates thinking and causes individuals to 'defend their own turf' and distrust others.
Unable to see, or believe in a better horizon beyond their present reality, their minds become clouded by pessimism and their actions follow their depressed worldview into simply reinforcing their survivalist status quo over and over again.
Dystopian images of the future are not hard to find, or to believe in, these days; what's really tricky is finding and creating positive alternatives that aren't science fiction.
Visioning takes a lot of work if it's to be effective.
Spending lots of time creating and crafting the specifics of a vision is essential; making sure that it is relevant, believable, achievable and inspiring. It then needs to be actively lived-through; shared around, discussed, imagined further and its artefacts proudly displayed.
A vision is not a strategy
A vision is not a strategy, but without a vision - strategy is meaningless.
There is no point in winning a game that doesn't fulfil you. You just end up being successful at staying mundane.
A vision is also not a vague, all-encompassing bullshit corporate statement that usually ends up at the front of an annual report. Nobody with a pulse has ever read one of those things and gotten excited about what could be.
Vision is a valuable asset
Ultimately a vision is a valuable asset that guides decision making. motivates action and keeps people committed to the journey of its realisation. It's an emotionally-charged image that spontaneously inspires wonder and desire in people.
It's a critical tool for driving a group of people into an unknown future and one which could also benefit from more attention and investment.