“It was a dark and stormy night… and without the beacon out in the distant, we would have been lost forever” said a Programme Manager who had a Vision Statement for their programme!
What is a Vision Statement?
Ultimately, a Vision Statement is a picture of the future. It describes the end of the programme – what will the organisation look like, act like, feel like, etc after the programme has finished. Some describe it as a “postcard from the future”.
As a brief, uplifting message, it aims to give inspiration to all programme stakeholders who hear it. It should go out on the bottom of every programme related email, the top of every letter head and for good measure, should be the first agenda item of every programme meeting. And if you have a leader board in your office, it should be making the rounds on that, too. It’s that influential as a statement, it should be seen and heard in as many places as possible. Get creative!
The problem with the Vision Statement is that it’s hard to write. This is a ubiquitous statement that sells the entire programme to as many stakeholders as possible. Sounds like an impossible task. And impossible tasks are easy to skip. Even though it is hard to craft, it is still imperative. You should do it anyway.
4 reasons your programme needs a Vision Statement
Straight from the horse’s mouth
The Vision Statement is written from the business perspective. It describes what the business will look like, after the programme closes. Since it’s from the business perspective, it needs to be written by/driven by the business. Ensure the key stakeholders driving this programme are actively involved in its creation. Capture their wording, their terms, their essence and their underlying message straight from these business stakeholders. People are more committed to ideas they have helped shape. When things get tough (and they will), the business will stick with you, because this was their idea.
Clarify the insanity
Unfortunately for you, your programme is not the only programme or change effort going on in your organisation. Something somewhere else is also going on, if you’re aware of it or not. With change being the ‘new black’ and staff suffering from the very real phenomenon of ‘change fatigue’, you’ve got to distinguish yourself and your efforts. In one fell swoop, you need to enlighten and motivate stakeholders whilst addressing their concerns clearly, quickly and easily. With a clear picture of the future, people can start to see how the organisation will be changing and how your programme will impact them. You might even consider using pictures, especially if you need to cut across language and/or cultural differences amongst stakeholders.
Stay the course
During a programme, things get, well, insane. Coordinating, directing and overseeing a large, complex set of projects and activities can at times be overwhelming. No matter how good at planning you might be. There will always be obstacles, risks, issues, questions, politics, opportunities, changes, and who-knows-what-else that you didn’t anticipate. How do you then keep your head above water? Remind yourself of the Vision. With every decision, reaction and new course of action, ask yourself if this gets you closer to the Vision. You can then rise above all the noise (and sometimes sheer nonsense!) and stay the course towards your desired direction.
The main focus
Are you down in the dumps? Are you up on a high? Every day is different on a programme. Where do you focus your attention? The Vision Statement.
Obviously, the Vision Statement will give you (and everyone) hope when things look bleak, as it is uplifting and inspirational. But it will also keep you focused when things are going well – the easiest time to go off track because things are going so well. When stakeholders see you succeed, they will want to add more to your plate, give you more to do, so you can succeed at that, too. But don’t succumb to the pressure. Hold fast. Feel empowered. Push back. You have a Vision Statement and through it all, stay focussed on that Vision.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE VISION STATEMENT
- It brings clarity to your confusing behemoth of a change effort.
- It motivates staff and suppliers to come together to work hard, work through the challenges and persevere when things get tough.
- It unites the team throughout the effort, so they can reach the end as one.
- It’s difficult, but do it anyway.
- If you need to, hire in expertise to help craft it.
- Done correctly, it’s worth its weight in gold.
- Get creative and get communicating.