Traveling recently, I met a gentleman whose team was in a rut. Inspiration low. Fatigue high. Energy flat. He wasn't sure why. Even he was exhausted.
Nothing big had happened, nothing bad. Things were moving along. In fact they were getting ready for a huge product launch that was going to take the company to a whole new level with the competition. And yet, ughhh...
"Once this launch is done, what's next for you guys? Where's the company going? And why? What's the bigger game?"
A couple of products they want to do over the next 18 months and then... Silence.
The energy of no vision, no next, no why, smack dab in the middle of our conversation.
We continued on.
Turns out, the powers that be hadn't shared a vision or a strong "why". They had a mission - basically to make great stuff and put it out in the world - but they hadn't communicated where they were going, the bigger game, and why folks should stay energetically loyal to what they were doing (besides a paycheck, some cool perks, and making cool stuff--which is all great but doesn't sustainably feed the soul).
The deeper we dug, the more we realized it wasn't about his executive team notcommunicating it, they simply weren't clear themselves.
They'd been busy. And in the "busy-ness" of it all, surviving "start up" mode, they'd put heart felt visioning and dreaming--often considered "luxury soft stuff"--on the back burner. Now, several years in, many successful launches under their belt, and a hungry and brilliant work force of over 200, their lack of vision and intention was catching up, showing up as "energetic haze", disconnection, and fatigue in the organization.
The luxury was no longer a luxury—it was now essential to the lifeblood and growth of this organization.
Talking with him, he thought they'd have time to explore visioning and purpose... in 8 months. Mmm. That's too long to wait to get peoples' hearts and souls re-energized. From experience I knew that at the rate they were moving, and with the symptoms being exhibited, they'd either start losing people soon, people would stay and phone it in (likely poisoning the well), and for those who did stay and keep leading the good game, they'd miss golden opportunities for impact and optimization, while flirting with the burnout that so often comes when intent, vision, and purpose are muffled.
There's often an unspoken (sometimes spoken) belief that goes something like this: "there's no time for visioning", "it's a luxury", "it's too big a task to take on", "alignment will be impossible", "we've gotten this far without a formal vision", or "we'll be limited if we commit to a vision".
I find it's just the opposite.
When we make time for it - vision saves time and creates alignment.
The more clear and aligned your workforce, the more powerful and positive the energy.
The higher the energetic vibration of your organization, the more productive your people and meetings, and the more inspired everyone becomes to show up and bring their best.
Visioning is not a luxury—it's fuel and alignment fodder. Visioning invites people to step into the future, to dream a reality that otherwise would not be so. It nurtures innovation and creativity. And instead of limiting -- it provides frameworks for what to say "yes" and "no" to and where to go next. It also optimizes time, energy, and money in retaining your talent and having the right people in the right seats.
The energy of vision is powerful. The "why" is fuel. The lack of either, tiring.
In Chip Conley's book "Emotional Equations" he shares the equation for anxiety.Ambiguity x Perceived Lack of Control = Anxiety. Lower either of the components, lower the anxiety. I find a vision lowers both (especially if you enroll your people in the process and ask for their input).
So dig in... Envision, decide, and communicate where your company is going and why; who you're doing all this great stuff for, and why; how Jack and Jane will be impacted by what you're all up to, and why that matters; and what your dreams are for the future. Enroll your people in the process; ask them to contribute to the vision; what's meaningful? What excites and delights them? What are you missing? What would thrill them more? It doesn't need to take a ton of time. It does need heart, time, and intention.
No time to start a formal vision process today? No worries, start the conversation now. Ask questions, model it, share your own hopes, aspirations, and why, get curious, and get the conversation rolling. Your organization's energy and innovation into the next big thing is counting on it. Ready? Go.
This article Originally appeared on Inc.com June 29, 2015