Should a Strategic Vision Be Achievable?

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Should a Strategic Vision Be Achievable?
Buenaventura M. Maata, Jr, Director, Philippines, Member
Strategic visioning and formulating a mission are far from simple.
One point of contention is how the vision should translate to the mission and then to the goals.
In the literature there are 2 thoughts on this--one argues that visions are or should be achievable, while the other is that they should remain as guiding principles.

Vision and Mission should be Achieveable Targets
Danilo Carreon, Consultant, Philippines, Member
Vision and mission set the tone and set the organizational direction. They influence the strategy and plans by setting achievable targets for proactive and learning organizations.
From time to time there will be obstacles and conflicts. Proactive and forward looking organizations are equipped and able to take corrective actions by interpreting the vision and mission.
I agree it's not that simple as many would want. It involves culture change and adaptation, top management involvement and guidance across the organization.
It can be Initially a guiding principle, but that guiding principle ultimately has to be translated into a strategic plan that is measurable, achievable, actionable, verifiable and monitors the plans and results and has room for corrective actions.

Mission Should Be More 'Achievable' Than Vision
A. Mumuni, Business Consultant, Nigeria, Member
In my opinion, for a vision to "work", it has to be achievable and measurable. It is difficult for people to strive for something that they KNOW they cannot achieve.
A vision should be audacious, challenging, and almost impossible to achieve BUT it should be achievable and measurable. As a rule of thumb, a vision would be a 10 to 20 year plan.
A mission should break the vision into more specific, achievable, and measurable goals. A mission would be a 1 to 5 year plan.

Should a Strategic Vision Be Achievable or Measurable?
Jaap de Jonge, Editor, Netherlands
I agree a vision should be audacious and challenging. But I am having some doubts about the vision having to be "achievable" and even more with "measurable". It depends on what you mean exactly with these words. To avoid misunderstanding I recommend the 7 phrases: "brief, prime goal, abstract, challenging, long-term perspective, stable and inspiring".
For more information, take a look at the 7 features of an effective vision by Kantabutra and Avery in our main article on strategic vision.

Our Vision Has a Number in It
A. Mumuni, Business Consultant, Nigeria, Member
Thank you, Jaap. "Prime Goal" fits what I was trying to say.
For example, our vision is to see 111.1 million people productively employed in successful and lasting businesses that we build, manage, and grow.
We struggled for a while about whether to say "all citizens" or "many citizens" and eventually agreed on 111.1 million (which is people that are currently employed plus people in the labour market).
The team agreed that this number gives us something tangible to work towards, our Prime Goal, as it were and they almost instinctively, wanted to be a part of something so big and audacious.
Our mission then further breaks down what we will do to get towards achieving gainful employment for 111.1 million citizens.
Thanks for the lead. There is so much to read here, its amazing!

The Issue with a Numeric Goal in a Vision
Jaap de Jonge, Editor, Netherlands
A vision is the imaginative picture of the future state of affairs a firm (or in your case: country) wishes to achieve. I can see your point that adding a number like 111.1 million has the advantage of being sounding/feeling Challenging and Inspiring, but also it has a disadvantage of not being Stable at all.

Visions should not need to be changed in reaction to short-term changes. We are talking perhaps 10 to 20 years as you argued earlier. I guess that - considering the population growth rate of Nigeria - one would have to change the number in above vision on a monthly basis.
How do you plan to deal with this?

A Vision for Laser Sharp Focus
A. Mumuni, Business Consultant, Nigeria, Member
We know that the number will change four times a year as the National Bureau of Statistics updates their Labour Force Report every quarter.
But even if it remained the same, we would be working for exactly 1110 years to achieve 111.1 million as our mission (at our current levels) is to build 100 businesses that create 1,000 jobs in 1 year.
Because it is a big number and we are a service (consulting) company we needed something tangible to anchor all our strategy and tactics.
What we then agreed to do was update the number only after a significant growth in the work force in the range of 50 million.
I understand what you are saying and would not have thought to put a number in a vision but now that number is our Prime Goal, and it has helped to keep the team laser-focused which is what a vision statement is supposed to do.

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