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I've written another LinkedIn post and published on my blog: http://upstreamview.com/ Clairvoyant wanted. Please call 07___3_8___1_ The title of this post is an advertisement I have long wanted to put in a local newspaper. Then I thought: well, if the clairvoyant is any good, then they shouldn’t need the hints about my phone number. Actually, if they are really brilliant I don’t need to put the ad in at all. So I didn’t. What I would have asked the responding clairvoyant was “what will be the next month’s winning lotto numbers?” Maybe all the brilliant clairvoyants out there have already won the lotto several times in a row and don’t need my payment for their services. This would prove that all clairvoyants that charge you money are fake. Anyway, this post is about vision. It is a difficult subject to write about, yet most people seem to think it is important for leaders to have vision. As a society we want politicians with a strong vision for the future, but we often just get slogans instead. What is the difference? A vision is based on an ideal future and foresight. A vision should therefore be possible to explain both in simple terms and in detail. I think a slogan is a simple vision that cannot be realistically explained in detail. So why is vision important for a business entrepreneur? Hurst et al (2008) suggest that the business founder’s personal vision and entrepreneurial vision need to align. Otherwise there will be inherent conflicts down the track. The entrepreneur needs to figure out if the business commitment fits with personal desire for freedom and flexibility. Is the main personal goal to build a 100% owned lifestyle business that replaces an income, or is it to build a fast-growing business with investment funding? These kinds of questions are important and provide guidance for early stage business strategy. To attract investments for the business there is a need to build an investment case from day one. What investors look for is a big topic for another post. Likewise, Ward (2011) discusses the importance of alignment of family values, vision, and business strategy for mature family owned businesses. Values are linked to core beliefs such as business first vs family first, business as family glue vs business as a threat to the family, and team decision making vs individual leadership. The impact of these values lead to a vision definition whether the family will function as owner-governors or owner-managers. So how should a powerful vision statement be formulated? Kantabutra (2008) suggests that such statements have the following attributes: conciseness clarity future orientation stability challenge abstractness desirability or ability to inspire Call me cynical (or an engineer – same thing), but I don’t think the ability to inspire should be in the list. Whenever I read a vision statement like “being the leader in our market by superior performance” I just want to throw up and immediately translate it to “management will lie, cheat, and steal to make up the next artificial quarterly figures to boost the company share price and executive bonuses”. So keep the vision real and make it actually guide business strategy. Inspiration and passion should come from people, not a grand statement on a wall. References Deborah Hurst Shelley MacDougall Chris Pelham, (2008), Aligning personal and entrepreneurial vision for success, Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy, Vol. 2 Iss 4 pp. 367 – 386 Kantabutra, S. (2008), What do we know about vision?, Journal of Applied Business Research, Vol. 24 No. 2, pp. 127-38. Ward, J. L. (2011). How Family Values and Vision Drive Business Strategy and Continuity/Cómo los valores y la visión de las familias dirigen la estrategia y la continuidad de la empresa. Universia Business Review, (32), 26.