Dear Clients and Friends,
The dawn of a new year—and especially a new decade—is an opportune time to take a step back and gain perspective on where your firm is going. By that, I mean you should consider your firm’s vision as part of its strategic plan or, if your firm doesn’t have a written vision for its future, this is the time to develop one.
Some firm leaders tend to be dismissive of the importance of a vision statement, preferring nuts and bolts problem solving to something so “warm and fuzzy.” But articulating a clear vision is crucial to your firm’s successful future.
Think back to famous visionaries in history and you can hear the power of their words. Remember the Reverend Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech and John F. Kennedy’s commitment “to land a man on the moon and return him safely to earth by the end of the decade.” The value of a vision can be summed up in two quotes: Renown author Steven Covey advised “Begin with the end in mind,” and Yogi Berra (supposedly) proclaimed, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might end up someplace else.”
Vision and Your Firm’s Strategic Plan
The vision should describe your firm at a point in time, ideally five or more years in the future. If a strategic plan is the firm’s “roadmap,” as many people like to think of it, the vision is its “destination,” a unique place it aspires to reach.
What should your firm’s vision accomplish? It should be…
- …compelling enough to get the people in your firm excited.
- …ambitious, but still realistic.
- …multi-dimensional, describing how your firm will be different in the future compared to today likely including:
- Target markets
- Geographic presence
- Project delivery
- Your firm as an employer
- Size and financial performance.
Firms with a defined and stated vision of where they want to go can align all of their resources in that direction, set strategies to get there, and engage their workforce in the cause. A vision provides context for the goals, strategies, and actions in the strategic plan, allowing the plan to address any issues that may stand in the way of achieving the vision
Developing and Sharing Your Firm’s Vision
No matter the size of your firm, developing its vision can’t be a solo activity. To get true buy-in (or better yet, “believe-in”) it’s crucial to involve leaders and key managers whose professional goals will depend on the firm’s future vision, and vice versa.
In many firms, we often hear comments from employees such as, “I wish I knew more about where this company is going!” The vision is meant to be shared with everyone in the firm as it can foster enthusiasm and motivation for current employees and new recruits alike. After all, today’s employees want to understand their organization’s direction, feel comfortable with how it intends to achieve its goals, and be able to translate those goals into individual career opportunities.
A Final Takeaway
I’d like to finish with one more quote: Daniel Burnham, the 19th century Chicago architect who laid out the city after the fire, captured the essence of a bold vision when he said, “Make no small plans. They have no magic to stir people’s blood. Make only big plans, for a noble concept once recorded shall live forever.”
After years of working with firms on their strategic plans, I strongly believe a firm can’t have an effective plan without a compelling future vision. If you have thoughts about this, I’d love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here’s wishing you a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year…and decade!