Last week I posted an article on organizational vision entitled “What Is Your Company’s Vision and Why Should You Care?” Besides defining what a vision statement is and providing some examples, I stated that an organization’s vision must be “clearly articulated, consistently modeled and communicated”.
Why does the organizational vision have to be clearly articulated, consistently modeled and communicated? Because vision leaks!
I first heard the “vision leaks” phrase during a leadership training class led by Andy Stanley and then I noticed it was included as axiom number 13 in Bill Hybels’ book Axiom. I am not sure where it originated from but it is an extremely important concept for business leaders.
Vision Leakage is defined as the phenomena where people in your organization forget the vision you communicated within a few weeks of the event. When you only communicate your vision once a year at a company event or in a yearly newsletter, it is guaranteed that people will forget what you said within a week or so.
The good news is that it is really easy to counteract this vision leakage problem.
The solution to vision leakage is to:
- Clearly articulate the vision
- Consistently model the vision
- Constantly communicate the vision.
Assuming that the vision is clearly articulated so that everyone in the organization can understand it, the next step is to ensure that the leaders of the organization model the vision in everything they do and every decision they make. When people see that the leaders are modeling the vision, they will understand that the leaders are serious and they will come along side and work together with them. However, if they see that the leaders are not modeling the vision, they will conclude that the vision statement is just another trend that will fade away like all the rest of the past trends.
As I read through the comments from readers on last weeks post on vision, I saw a few that were pointing out that vision gets derailed many times due to the perceived need of the organization to meet financial targets or market expectations or other outside influences. This does happen and I would argue that it is happening because the leadership of the organization is not truly committed to the vision. If the commitment is there, the leaders will model the vision regardless of the outside influence.
The final step is to communicate the vision constantly using every medium possible. Communicate it in newsletters, meetings, feedback sessions, “did you know” emails, company events, when explaining organizational decisions, etc.
Vision leakage cannot be stopped, it is human nature. However, it can be effectively counteracted by clearly articulating the vision, consistently modeling the vision and continually communicating the vision.