When Vision Matters (according to famous people)
Vision is woo-woo and it’s easy to dismiss those visiontalk to focus on the grind.
To show you what vision is and convince you that it matters for your growth, I collected a bunch of quotes and stories from famous people.
Visionary + Integrator = Rocket Fuel
Rocket fuel contains huge energy, but is useless until properly mixed with an oxidizer.
According to the popular book and method series Traction / Rocket Fuel, most business need 2 roles at their head : a visionary and an integrator.
Although some people are great at doing both roles, it’s not that common to naturally exhibit the traits needed to be a great visionary and a great integrator at once.
“If it hadn’t been for my big brother, I swear I’d’ve been in jail several times for checks bouncing.”
– Walt Disney
Walt disney, henry ford, ray croc, steve jobs, Soichiro Honda… the book goes on showing how a lot of the most famous visionaries had a discrete integrator working with them.
on the other hand it’s hard to find business famous for their great integrator without any vision 😀
Of course not every company needs a Steve Jobs, and the book tells you more about the spectrum and how much vision matters in different type of companies
“When you combine these three factors—type of industry, your desired growth rate, and the degree of complexity in your market—you will find where your company is on the “Visionary Spectrum.” If all are redlined on the scale, then you might need Steve Jobs. If all are on the extreme low end of the scale, then Mr. Magoo might do. (For our younger readers, Mr. Magoo had very weak vision.)”
Start with the end in mind (and put first thing first)
Stephen Covey’s bestseller “7 habits of highly effective people” starts with the 3 first personal victories.
2nd and 3rd are all about setting and prioritizing your vision.
“..people are working harder than ever, but because they lack clarity and vision, they aren’t getting very far. They, in essence, are pushing a rope…with all of their might.”
“Our struggle to put first things first can be characterized by the contrast between two powerful tools that direct us: the clock and the compass. The clock represents our commitments, appointments, schedules, goals, activities – what we do with, and how we manage our time. The compass represents our vision, values, principles, mission, conscience, direction – what we feel is important and how we lead our lives. In an effort to close the gap between the clock and the compass in our lives, many of us turn to the field of “time management.” “
Value comes from thinking – Richard Koch
Without a unique formula, there is no great value added.
Usually, the only way to arrive at a great new formula is to think.
Not to do.
Thought drives out thought.
If Bruce and Bill had been running consulting assignments, they’d never have arrived at their breakthroughs.
How a retail e-commerce founder unlocked vital partnership with the biggest brands thanks to the right vision
“Again and again, Natalie’s superpower has been to look out to the vanishing point where media and commerce meet. Previously, a fashion magazine’s business model was to sell ads around all the clothes they showcased in their pages. But why rely on ads when you can sell the clothes themselves?
Natalie describing Net-a-Porter as a shoppable fashion magazine – as opposed to a super-duper-futuristic-website – helped luxury brands understand her proposal. Like a science fiction writer setting her story “five minutes in the future,” she used a familiar framing to explain a new idea.
This is something successful entrepreneurs do constantly. You keep the circumstances as relatable as possible, so that investors and consumers alike can warm up to a change. The more you do that, the less resistance you’ll meet.
Once Natalie had convinced luxury brands to bet on her vision, doors started to open more quickly.”
– Reid Hoffman on Nathalie Massenet, an e-commerce founder
listen to the whole podcast here https://mastersofscale.com/massenet/
Elon Musk has a 1000 Year vision – Joe Justice
Allegedly Musk spends more time building than thinking but he spent a huge amount of time reading and thinking in his childhood and is now a master at communicating vision, as we can see in both SpaceX Mars plans and Tesla’s public masterplans as well as the crisp mission statements of those 2 companies.
This strong vision allows more than 100000 employees at Tesla and millions of fans to share a common goal and make millions of useful decisions, resulting in the fastest growing hardware company ever.
Start with why – Simon Sinek
Sinek is famous for his discourse on vision in business and leadership. Here are a few selected quote to make the point:
“Leadership requires two things: a vision of the world that does not yet exist and the ability to communicate it.”
“Working hard for something we do not care about is called stress, working hard for something we love is called passion.”
“Trust is maintained when values and beliefs are actively managed. If companies do not actively work to keep clarity, discipline and consistency in balance, then trust starts to break down.
All organizations start with WHY, but only the great ones keep their WHY clear year after year.”
Good to Great – Vision as a People Selector
“Visionary companies are so clear about what they stand for and what they’re trying to achieve that they simply don’t have room for those unwilling or unable to fit their exacting standards.”
– Jim Collins
Why vision is hard
Vision is hard because our nose is stuck to the matter.
The day to day grind has 2 main detrimental effects to our vision.
First there is a zoomed-in effect where we start missing the big picture, having the “expert syndrome”… When you spend your whole day dealing with nails you start treating everything with a hammer. When you spend every day chasing quick fixes and wins you forget to adjust the long term goal.
Then there is a time and attention saturation effect where we can’t free a few hours of deep work in a row anymore.
A provocative blogger once said that if you can’t focus a few hours in a row you’re just stupid. Even if you started with a high IQ, if you’re not stopping and focusing on the problem you won’t get much results.
If you want to act a bit smarter, you’ll need to zoom out, and to free the time and focus needed to do so.
How do you free up enough time to play your role as a visionary?
Freeing time and attention to be able to zoom out and clarify your vision is mainly a question of will and determination. Fortunately there are definite actions that can help you step in that direction.
Lots of well documented techniques and methods help you do what needs to be done in less time, making a bit more space for long term work.
Here is a list of proven approaches:
- inbox 0 and GTD
- fixed agendas for meetings
- time boxing
- themed days
- central documentation
- automation tools and no-code tools
All those approaches are well documented, look them up.
“Everyone needs an organizational system to track goals, priorities, and tasks. The majority of successful CEOs that I know use the system outlined in the book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen.”
– Matt Mochary, The Great CEO Within: The Tactical Guide to Company Building
Delegate to team
You can do things that your team can not do.
Your team can do things that you’re doing.
Shall I elaborate further?
You should always be seeking to delegate your recurring duties to your team. And they should do the same with their own reports. Ultimately the less valuable tasks are “delegated to the floor” or automated, which is exactly what you want in an effective organization.
If you feel that delegation is not working it’s a clear sign that you need to learn how to delegate.
“Learning to delegate is part of the transition to becoming an executive. Too many managers today think that because they are smarter and more effective at getting things done than their directs, they should try to get more done by doing it themselves. This isn’t sustainable, and I’ve seen the failure scenario play out a hundred times.”
– Mark Horstman, The Effective Manager
A few tips to get started:
- delegate well understood tasks
- do not delegate brand new duties that are not well standardized yet
- do not delegate too complex duties
- do not delegate too big chunks of work at once
Delegate to a VA (virtual assistant)
In modern companies, especially highly or fully remote companies, virtual assistants can be an outstanding solution to delegate your repetitive, time consuming tasks.
You might want an executive assistant, or a specialized assistant, depending on your profile and needs.
Delegate to an Outsourcing Service
If your tasks are too diverse for a single virtual assistant, or if you don’t want to go through the hiring (and firing) process yourself, you might use a packaged service from an outsourcing company. Some are specialized in specific verticals and others have a larger pool of skills available.