What is Vision-Aligned Action and How Do You Create Some?

| August 26, 2020

arrowsWhen everything you do sends the same message, you have to do less of it.

It’s the basis of great branding. It’s the reason excellent organizations stay in the forefront of their industry. It’s the secret of break-through communication of every type. It’s really quite simple. It’s just not always easy.

If you’re up to your elbows in alligators, it’s difficult to remember why you wanted to save the swamp. Likewise, it’s easy to forget the long-term organizational vision, when you are being eaten alive by the daily crises that invade our mindspace: The unexpected service glitch that has frustrated your best client. The new software has launched, and already doesn’t respond. You just got the call from home that the dog ate through a pipe in the laundry room. The unanticipated analyst question. The news report of a global uprising, and the video is being shot outside your warehouse. The shoelace that keeps coming untied.

As leaders in our organizations and our communities, there is not shortage of opportunities for action and “distr”-action. What vision-aligned action does is help you pare down your to-do list, and know where to focus so that you complete what is truly most important.

How does that happen? Start by reducing your vision and mission into its most elemental pieces. Because your vision is the destination of your customer-centered company, this distilled list represents what you will do, in the long run, to create amazing value. [See Vision post.] Boil down your list to no more than five single words or phrases that encapsulate the essence of who you are and where you’re going. For one idea about this process, see “The Art of the Start,” by Guy Kawasaki (@GuyKawasaki)

These words become the sieve through which you will run your list of potential foci. You start with the actions that hit the greatest number of vision-specified value, throw all available resources against it, move on to the second, etc. For example, let’s say you have three phrases that encapsulate your unique value in your industry: Strategic Innovation, Team Engagement, and Leadership Branding. Take the first item on your to-do list: How many of these values will be
impacted by taking action on that item. Ask the same question of the next thing on your to-do list. Move all the way through your list of potential activities.

You begin by working on the one item that addresses the greatest number of vision-specified values. In this case, the maximum would be three. If you have a tie between two items, go to the one that is more urgent. Or the one closer to your Board Chair’s heart.

Congratulations: By staying focused on what is most important to you in the long run, you will get more of what matters done. You will have successfully embraced Vision-Aligned Action. And, oh by the way, if these are your three strategic phrases, we need to have a heart-to-heart!


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