I hope I articulated the importance of having a clear vision of what you are trying to achieve. This is a prerequisite for being able to deliver something non-trivial alongside many other human beings.
However, the next step is more difficult than it seems. Today I will write about how I think I translate vision into action. In particular, how to solve the common problem of “How can I plan when I don’t know everything?” It turns out this is the case every time you write a plan.
The problem is that we often start with a rough idea of what we want to do. I’ll take an example: I worked for a company that made travel, and their vision was to “become the one-stop app for all your travel needs.” The company believed there was an opportunity in this space that would allow it to grow its business and also had its eye on things like flight searches and hotel reservations on Google as a future competitor.
The first thing you need to recognize about this is that it is an ambitious goal. Stretch goals are a good thing when they can give people a framework for understanding the direction of travel. Other examples might include Google’s unifying vision of “organizing the world’s information and making it universally accessible” or Microsoft’s vision of “a computer on every desk”, which turned out quite well for them.
The purpose of an ambitious vision is to inspire action by generating purpose. Other examples might include the first ascent of Everest or a human landing on the Moon for the first time.
When presented with an ambitious vision, leaders’ job is to help teams translate it into something meaningful for them. Part of this process is teaching them to do it themselves. Some ambitious visions, like climbing Everest, have a very clear end point – others, like my travel example, are open-ended. It’s impossible to meet every travel need in one mobile app. So, taken literally, the vision can inspire bad action.
Interestingly, a model used to give feedback can be helpful here. The model I’m talking about is the SBI (Situation – Behavior – Impact) model. In essence, what we are…