BOLD Vision Framework
How can I formulate an inspiring vision? TIAS professor of Strategic Leadership Ron Meyer presents an insightful tool to kickstart your thinking: BOLD Vision Framework.
A vision is a picture of what you would like to become. You envision a future self or organization that you would like to strive for – it’s not what you see with your naked eye, but with your mind’s eye. It’s not how you look at things (your view), but how you dream to shape things.A vision will be inspiring if it sketches an attractive long-term goal that is neither too easy nor out of reach. If it is too easy, it will simply be an objective. If it is unattainable, it will be a fantasy that people can’t take seriously. It needs to be an ambitious dream, not a pie-in-the-sky.
The BOLD Vision Framework outlines the four key elements that need to be defined to have a complete vision for an organization. At the heart is the organizational ambition (“how high do we want to set our sights?”), surrounded by the three fundamental strategic questions already discussed in the Strategic Alignment Model (Meyer’s Management Models #32). Underneath are the four BOLD conditions that need to be met for a vision to be inspiring, which are the opposite of SMART conditions (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time-bound).
The four building blocks of any organizational vision are the following:
1. Organizational Ambition. While an organization’s mission should give an answer to the question “why?” (the raison d’etre), the organization’s ambition should answer “how high?”. What is the performance level the organization wants to strive for – how big, well-known, impactful, profitable, international and/or sustainable? What does future success look like?
2. Market Position. The world outside the organization is huge, so a crucial part of the vision is to define “where to play?” – where in the market does the organization want to compete and achieve success? Which customers does it want to serve and with which other parties is it willing to deal, such as competitors, distributors, suppliers, and governments.
3. Business Model. The next question is “how to play?” – how does the organization want to create superior customer value in future, thereby fending off competition, while at the same time dealing with all other parties in the chosen market? What are the intended value propositions, which activity system will be developed, and which resources needed?
4. Organizational Model. The final question is “who should play?” – what does the team look like that is capable of running the business model? What type of people need to be on the team, how should it be structured, coordinated, and controlled, which culture is needed and what type of leadership is required to get the optimal result?
These four elements need to be determined while meeting the following four criteria:
1. Broad. While SMART goals need to be specific, a vision needs to be broad. It should sketch a big picture overview of how all elements fit together into a consistent whole, using rough brushstrokes to highlight the crucial lines, while leaving out all the specific details.
2. Optimistic. While SMART goals need to be realistic, a vision needs to be optimistic. It should sketch a bright, hopeful picture of what can potentially be achieved if people in the organization is willing to work hard and luck is on their side.
3. Long-term. While SMART goals need to be measurable and time-bound, a vision needs to be long-term. It is the guiding light further out into the future, giving direction beyond the period for which the organization measures and plans.
4. Daring. While SMART goals need to be immediately actionable, a vision needs to be daring. It should challenge people to come out of their comfort zone, think big, innovate, and stretch themselves – to do things they never realized they could achieve.
• A vision is what you see when you close your eyes. A vision is not a goal that you can actually see on the horizon, but a roughly defined long-term goal that you picture in your mind. A vision needs to be envisioned, individually or with a group of people.
• A vision needs to be BOLD to be inspiring. Pragmatic short-term aims need to be SMART, but to inspire, a vision needs to be the opposite, namely BOLD – Broad, not specific; Optimistic, not realistic; Long-term, not measurable and time-bound; and Daring, not directly actionable. A BOLD vision doesn’t give all the answers but sets the general direction and generates the desire to try to achieve it.
• A vision needs to have ambition at its heart. At the core of a vision is the aspiration to become more than you are today. You need to determine how high you want to set your sights and that becomes the engine driving people to perform in order to reach it.
• A vision needs to answer where, how and who should play. While ambition is the driver, a vision also needs to outline three key choices to bring the picture into enough focus. An outline is needed of the market position where the organization wants to play, of the business model with which it wants to play, and of the organizational model shaping the team with which it wants to play. All three are needed to have an effective vision.
• A vision needs to be shared to be inspiring. Vision statements make great posters but are only useful if they are shared and internalized by the people in the organization.
INSPIRED BY THIS KICKSTART?
During the six-day Masterclass Organizational Leadership you will work on solutions for a problem of your own definition, such as transforming with your organization and getting employees moving. You will also reflect on the performance of your Management Team and your organization. This will help you realize effective growth for your organization.
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BOLD Vision Framework Stance Map is part 56 of a series of management models by prof. dr. Ron Meyer. Ron is managing director of the Center for Strategy & Leadership and publishes regularly on Center for Strategy & Leadership.