Innovation

A brief polemic about vision

If you have not seen “Bridge to Terabithia”, I strongly suggest that you do. It's a good movie on a lot of levels. It's good family fun. It will resonate with anyone who survived grade school. It contains the most important of all possible lessons about vision: that it is a process of growth, not a static concept handed down by someone else.

If vision is a process, something children can learn, then it is not something which only an elite few engage in. It is not a statement on a piece of paper or a bold goal which everyone can rally behind. It is not the purview of consultants or an idea handed down from on-high.

Instead, vision is a key which unlocks many boxes, only one of which is what we think of as “truth”. It is a process which lights a fire in the mind as each individual chooses to let go of the surface and free-fall into something else. It is a process we all share in, great and small, for in the end when it comes to vision great and small is something you have to set aside – like everything else it is just a matter of perspective.

If you are a project manager, stop and consider what it would mean to see beyond the charts and the schedules. Yes, the decision to make the change you must implement was made by someone else. But the change is not the project; the project is a means towards the change. What is more important: the form or the substance?

If you are a manager, do you really need for people to “buy into the vision”? Vision isn't something you “buy into”; it's a process of awakening which might or might not lead the person you assist in the direction you want them to go. However chancy it is, though, it is far less chancy than not involving your people – if you do not work with them to light up the world then their process will lead them further away from you and your goals.

If you serve, and we all serve to one degree or another, allow yourself to see sideways. Where do your fears cloud your mind? Where does your heart not let you reach out to those who you work with? Why do you choose to turn away? Why do you choose what you choose when you choose it? What do those choices say about you, about your life?

Everyone, for once and for all, listen to the actions of your life. They are the words with which you tell the story your children and your children's children will remember. They tell the world not just what you see, but how you see it and what you intend to do about it.

Stop believing that vision is that crap which happens in envisioning workshops and could possibly be reduced into a single statement on the back of a business card. An encoded vision, even a beautifully written one, is a dead thing. It only takes life again when you, individually, allow it to.

Okay. Enough with the impractical meanderings. I'll write something practical next week, I promise.

Until then, though, I hope you take a moment to think sideways. There's a lot of bridges out there we need to cross, all of us, and straight ahead will just end up in the river.

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