Positive Business: Visioning, anyone?

May 19, 2014

By: Wayne Baker

Originally posted on Our Values

How did the Wright brothers beat their chief competitor—Samuel Pierpont Langley—in the race to create powered, heavier-than-air controllable flight? Langley had plenty of government funding and a team of engineers. The Wrights were bicycle makers who used their own modest resources. What was the difference? The difference was vision, says Rich Sheridan in Joy, Inc.: How We Built a Workplace People Love.

“Langley was trying to build an airplane. The Wright brothers wanted to fly,” Sheridan writes.

Visioning is a powerful positive practice for a person, a company, even a service or a product. It helps you to get the future you want. Every positive business has a clear vision of the future they want to create. I wrote a vision for United America when I started writing my latest book. I have my MBA students learn how to write a vision for themselves.

What is a vision?

Here’s how Ari Weinzweig, CEO and co-founder of Zingerman’s Community of Businesses in Ann Arbor, MI, defines it in one of his Inc. articles: “It’s not as mystical or out there as it sounds. A vision, quite simply, is a picture of what success will be at a particular time in the future. It encompasses answers to an array of questions: What does our organization look like? How big is it? What are we famous for? Why does anyone care about what we do? How do people who work here feel about their jobs? How do I, as the founder, feel about the business? What’s my role in it? Complete the visioning process, and you’ll have a clearly articulated end for your organization—something that won’t change every time the market or your mood shifts.”

Zingerman’s is a master at visioning. They have their 2020 Vision—a detailed statement of the business they will be in 2020. Each business has a vision. They even write visions for their products and services.

A great vision is inspiring and strategically sound. A vision has to be documented (written down) and shared (so others can help you).

You can create a powerful personal vision. Ari writes extensively about visioning in his Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading books. Better yet, you can hear him speak in person this week at the first annual conference on positive business conference May 15-17, 2014, at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business.

Do you have a vision of what success looks like for you?

How about your company or organization?