Vision Series Part 4 of 4: Executing your vision

We’ve reached the end of the vision series through which we have discussed creating a vision, developing a corresponding strategy, communicating that vision and strategy to your key stakeholders, and now all that is left (relatively speaking) is executing your vision.

Imagine this for your household vision: “My children’s bedrooms will be clean.” You’ve come up with an admirable vision based on research showing how much lower your stress level would be. You even developed a foolproof strategy to have your children clean up after themselves every time they want to start something new. To top it off, you told your children this great new vision and they surprisingly seemed to be on board. Poof, their rooms are clean, right?

Wrong. Unfortunately, creating a vision, developing a strategy, and communicating it all don’t actually mean you will realize your vision. You must actively manage your strategy’s implementation in order to achieve your vision. To do so you have to understand the critical success and failure factors.

Four key success factors to achieving your vision:

  • Attain buy-in and commitment at all levels – We talked about this in the post about communicating your vision. Everyone from executives to entry level employees needs to buy-in to your vision. They need to be committed to its success and understand how that directly correlates to their success.
  • Define roles – Who is responsible for what? It seems too obvious, but it’s critical. To begin with, you must understand what the key roles are. Do you need a social media guru, a community expert, a finance wiz, a team manager, all of them? One role that everyone needs to fill is that of a change agent: An influential person (or hopefully a group of people) who is a proud advocate of the changes taking place. How much more successful would your household vision be if your eldest child started not only talking about how cool clean rooms were, but was actually cleaning too.
  • Provide the right resources – Unfortunately, most changes aren’t free, whether there is a monetary cost or a time cost, implementing a strategy takes resources. To succeed, you have to have those resources readily accessible to the people who need them.
  • Communication, communication, communication – Have I mentioned communication? Communicate successes and milestones, communicate status updates and changes, and communicate challenges and plans to overcome those. In conclusion, communicate.

Four key failure factors hindering vision achievement:

  • People don’t understand your vision and/or strategy – If this is the case you may need to step back, reevaluate your vision, strategy, and communication plan and determine where improvement is needed. Consider holding a small focus group to help steer things in the right direction. It’s important not to assume people understand. So take the time to survey your audience and check that they understand your plan before moving forward.
  • People don’t believe in your vision – The hard question you must ask yourself (and others) is whether the problem is the vision or the people. Naturally, people are resistant to change and that is something, as leaders, we must overcome. We have to help them to see why change is needed and guide them toward making those changes. However, no matter what you do some people may still be resistant – this is a people problem. If, on the other hand, many people don’t buy in to your vision, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
  • No means for measurement – What does success look like? How do you know when you’ve achieved it? What are the critical milestones? If you don’t know, no one else does either.
  • Losing focus – Launching a new vision and strategy comes with a lot of great energy, but then everyday life sets in and it is easy to lose focus. If you realize focus is fading, you can infuse new energy through communications, updates, and contests. You can also prevent your strategy from getting off track by assigning someone to oversee its progress (note: this means they can’t also oversee five other things simultaneously).

A great vision can transform an organization or even a nation, but for a vision to be more than just words on a paper you must commit to its success. And that starts by realizing that there really is so much more to a vision than words. A vision takes people, processes, technology, and resources. When you’ve created your vision, you’re at the beginning, not the end. 

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