Get Your Virtual Reality Headsets on, its time to look at your Vision.
Whenever someone comes up with a list of corporate terms they hate, you can pretty much guarantee that ‘Vision’ will make the list, along with ‘Mission Statement’ and probably ‘Blue Sky Thinking’. Some corporate terms have undoubtedly earnt their place on the list, but Vision is a term that gets an unfairly bad rep.
When you set out to grow or change a company, your Vision has to be your starting point. And it has to be in 3D, full Technicolor, with Surround Sound. Your Vision should be so real, so clear, so well described that you could put on Virtual Reality (VR) goggles and be immersed in your Vision as an experience.
VR-level visions are incredibly powerful. They tell you lots about how you’ll know when you’ve achieved your Vision, and what needs to change to get there. Your VR-Vision is the start point for building your business strategy, and the transformation plans that you might hang off of that strategy.
Let’s use an example: say you’re a newish FinTech and you’ve developed a product that helps people save for their children’s education. It achieves that in a very specific way, with weekly/monthly savings targets, current student financial data compared against inflation to give you an idea of how much to save, and access to savings products that will make the most of your money, plus any tax breaks. (I don’t think this exists, by the way, so if you want to launch it as a startup, you’re welcome).
You could have a flat Vision that’s about as much use as chocolate teapot, and it would look something like this: “It’s our Vision to develop an app our users love and get a million people using it within five years”.
Or, if you go full-VR, you could have a Vision that looks and feels like this:
“It’s our Vision to improve our app to suggest savings amounts based on a mix of cost data and parental income. Our app will have links to savings products across the financial spectrum, offering our customers access to everything from traditional savings accounts to ISAs, Credit Unions, online banks and Premium Bonds. We will hit the 1 million active users mark in year 5, which based on current data means we need to achieve 1.4 million downloads, to take account of user drop-off. Our customers will give us 4.7+ feedback that tells us they love feeling that they’re providing their children with future security. We’ll have started working with some large companies, providing a white-label version of the app through their staff reward/remuneration schemes. To achieve all this, we will have grown our team by 10, and moved to new premises to accommodate us all. We will have funded the app development, staff increases and premises move through a successful funding round.”
The full-VR Vision is rich, as detailed as it can be, based on current data, and has some clear indicators that will tell you if you’ve achieved what you set out to do. You can see it, feel it, taste it and smell it. Its your truth. It’s something you can print out as a poster and frame on the office wall, to remind you every day what you’re aiming at. Every new opportunity that crops up can be held up against the Vision - does it help make it happen? If not, either don’t do it, or take a step back and check your Vision is still right (it’s about 99% certain you’ll need to refine it some point).
But, just before you get busy applying creative fonts and colours to your printable version, do a sense check: What does this mean for you and your co-founders personally? What does it mean for your existing staff? Make sure that Vision is something you want to do, versus something you think you should do. You might realise that of course the app will continue, but actually what you love is the invention of new products, and you’d rather aim to sell out in Year 4, and move on to a new idea (tip: if that is your preference, don’t print that Vision and put it on the office wall, it might not be great for staff morale - but still put it somewhere that you will see it every day).
Three final really important points:
1. Dream big. If you don’t, no-one will do it for you.
2. Be realistic (I know, this sounds like a contradiction). This is where your research comes in. If 50% of the adult working-age world globally don’t currently have access to banking, plus you know that statistically only x% of adults have children, and only x% of them go on to further education, your target customer base needs to not be larger than that amount of people.
3. The Vision needs to not take you more than a day to put together, including any research you need to do. This will be a living document, so it’s got to be easy to create and easy to update. Don’t turn it into War and Peace, or you’ll stick it in a drawer and never touch the thing again.
If you would like help with creating your Vision, or you’ve got the Vision down but need some extra brains to work on the business strategies and transformation plans you hang off of it, then please get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org. Our VR goggles are ready...