A vision is not a fixed picture. It is not something you can “reach.” A vision provides direction. When designing a vision, it is less important to set realistic goals than to keep your eyes on the vision itself. Instead of asking where you will be in five or 10 years with your company, it is more important to wonder about time spans of hundreds of years – this allows you to distance yourself mentally from the concreteness of your immediate goals.
The values of a company follow from the vision. These values constitute the fundamental principles. A principle is a form of rule of thumb derived from the general knowledge of the world. What is special about principles is that they are valid in general, even if the situation is unclear. In business, they form the backbone of the company: you can rely on them all the time. They help to solve personal conflicts and to keep one’s eyes on the long-term goal.
Once the company values are established, and the vision is set, you have to be on the lookout during the daily business that you are not running while keeping in the same place. In a “running” company, it can easily happen that the daily tasks consume all of your time. Everyone works yet the company is not really moving forward.
“Well, in our country,” said Alice, still panting a little, “you’d generally get to somewhere else – if you run very fast for a long time, as we’ve been doing.”
“A slow sort of country!” said the Queen. “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”
Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There
Your job as a leader is not limited to reaching incremental goals; you also have to invest time into improving processes and developing values. Every day, every week, you should think about whether you, as a leader (or the company respectively) have become wiser, more experienced, and developed a deeper sense of morality… all while keeping the long-term vision in mind.