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Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

How to Develop a Vision and Make it Stick

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Have you ever been in an organization and not felt that there was a clear direction on where the organization was going? Or perhaps the organization has a stated vision, but it’s not well understood what the vision actually means. Leaders – whether they are in a Fortune 500 organization, church, non-profit or team – need to provide a vision for those they are leading. People need to know where their leader is taking them. John Maxwell has said that a leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.
But how do you develop a vision for your organization, and then once developed, how do you make that vision stick? I’ve been helped in this area by two books written by Andy Stanley – Visioneering: Your Guide for Discovering and Maintaining Personal Vision and Making Vision Stick.In Visioneering, Stanley describes visioneering as a preferred future, a destination. Visioneering is the engineering of a vision. It is the process a leader follows to develop and maintain vision. He illustrates visioneering as Inspiration + Conviction + Action + Determination + Completion and describes 20 Building Blocks of vision. Nine of the Building Blocks that I find particularly helpful are:

  1. A vision begins as a concern.
  2. A vision does not necessarily require immediate action.
  3. Communicate your vision as a solution to a problem that must be addressed.
  4. Cast your vision to the appropriate people at the appropriate time.
  5. Visions are refined – they don’t change; plans are revised – they rarely stay the same.
  6. Visions thrive in an environment of unity; they die in an environment of division.
  7. Maintaining a vision requires adherence to a set of core beliefs and behaviors.
  8. Visions require constant attention.
  9. Maintaining a vision requires bold leadership.

A few additional takeaways I had from the book were:
* For the Christian leader, vision takes praying and planning.

* In order to share your vision accordingly, you must be able to state the problem your vision addresses along with a solution to the problem.

* Any vision worth pursuing will demand sacrifice and risk. You will be called upon to give up the actual good for the potential best.

* Your influence is far more critical to the success of your vision than your position.

* “What” always precedes “how”. You will know what God has put in your heart to do before you know how He intends to bring it about.

Stanley intends Making Vision Stick for organizations who have developed their vision and want to make it stick. He describes vision as a mental picture of what could be, fueled by a passion that it should be. He states that one of the greatest challenges of leadership is making vision stick.
Stanley writes that it is the leader’s responsibility to ensure that those within their organization understand and embrace the vision of the organization. However, when a leader blames the followers for not following, the leader has ceased to lead.
He provides five steps to make your vision stick:

1. State it Simply. People don’t remember or embrace paragraphs, so the vision must be simple and memorable. If the vision is unclear to you, it will never be clear to the people in your organization. For your vision to stick, you may need to clarify or simplify it.

2. Cast in Convincingly. The three parts to this step are:

a.  Define the problem. People have to realize how serious it is and what is at stake if they don’t get on board.

b.  Offer a solution. A vision is convincing when people are able to see the connection between the problem and how the organization if offering a solution.

c.  Present a reason. This is the reason that action must take place now. This is the answer to the questions “Why must we do this?” and “Why must we do this now?”

3.  Repeat it regularly. Regardless of how often you think you’ve repeated your vision, it’s not enough. He recommends discovering within the rhythm of your organization when the best time is to cast and repeat vision.

4.  Celebrate it systematically. The leader has to find ways to celebrate the vision. When you catch somebody living out the vision you need to celebrate it. People will repeat what is most often celebrated. If your vision doesn’t align with what is celebrated, what is celebrated will overpower the vision and determine the course of your organization.

5.  Embrace it personally. Your willingness to embody the vision of your organization will have a direct impact on your credibility as a leader. Living out the vision establishes credibility and makes you a leader worth following.

I learned a lot about vision – creating it and making it stick – from these two books by Andy Stanley. What books would you recommend on vision?

Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence – married to my best friend Tammy, a graduate of Covenant Seminary, St. Louis Cardinals fan, formerly a manager at a Fortune 50 organization, and in leadership at my local church. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people develop, and to use their strengths to their fullest potential. I am an INTJ on Myers-Briggs, 3 on the Enneagram, my top five Strengthsfinder themes are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Harmony, and Achiever, and my two StandOut strength roles are Creator and Equalizer. My favorite book is the Bible, with Romans my favorite book of the Bible, and Colossians 3:23 and 2 Corinthians 5:21 being my favorite verses. Some of my other favorite books are The Holiness of God and Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul, and Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. I enjoy music in a variety of genres, including modern hymns, Christian hip-hop and classic rock. My book Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace and Tammy’s book Study, Savor and Share Scripture: Becoming What We Behold are available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.

One thought on “How to Develop a Vision and Make it Stick

  1. Interesting points, Bill. Thanks for putting this together.

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