Posts Tagged ‘planning’

vision

Do you have visions? Dreams of what the future could look like?

You should. You better.

When I say vision I don’t mean some crap ass mission statement about being the best. I mean envisioning a perfect future state. Whether for a small or large project, for your team, for your company, for your own job, you need to have visions.

Even Misfits need vision. Even if they are abstract and hard to define. Can you see it? Good. Then start talking about what you see (or writing about it if that is better for you). Maybe at first you’ll have a hard time describing it. That’s OK. Bounce it off people. They’ll poke holes. That’s OK, too. Every new concept has holes to fill in.  If you have passion for the vision, let that shine through.

And then start telling your customer about the vision. Start selling your customer on the vision, on the possibilities. Don’t confuse this with telling them what to do. This is about opening their eyes to opportunity. The what to do will come later. Create the desire first.

“If you want to build a ship, don’t herd people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

So we have desire. Now we can put the shared vision to work. As we take our first steps we can look ahead to the vision and ask where are we trying to go, what are we trying to accomplish and then finally we can ask what are the very first steps to move in that direction. Having that vision means we don’t have to have some detailed plan on how to get there. We just have to keep taking the next best and available step toward the vision.

Knowing the destination will allow us to make a wider range of choices, to use more discretion in concocting actions and behaviors that are conscience of the ever changing environment around us. We’re agile. We’re not tied down to the baggage of a plan concocted long before enough information was available to make good choices.

We have to get used to making directional, non-linear choices. And for many of us the only way to get used to that is to start doing it and working through the discomfort. This is important because we’ll never each a perfect future state and we have to learn to be comfortable that.

And sometimes we’ll be wrong. That’s why it’s uncomfortable. That’s OK. The advantage in going step by step by step is that if we are diligent at the wheel we can never get to far off track. And we always learn more from mistakes. It’s kind of like managed play time. But instead it’s managed mistake making.

I was reading an article the other day about re-inventing the public library. The author basically stated that if we as library managers are not making mistakes we’re not pushing hard enough to keep up with the changing times.

We have to push ourselves into discomfort and risk, knowing that our vision is our safety net. That is the ticket to the future.

As to how to cultivate visions, that belongs to a different post.

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Nomad Walking in Desert

That’s the analogy I use when people try to plan too specifically too far out.

In the change world the environment changes constantly while being buffeted by forces inside and out.

Trying to map too far out causes three key certainties. First, you will be wrong. Second, you will have generated solutions based on this wrongness.  Third, it will be really hard to banish those wrong solutions. These wrong solutions will persist and influence ongoing thought processes. And that doesn’t sound like a good plan at all.

So instead of bashing that approach let’s just talk about an alternate way to get where we need to go.

First, in choosing not to map sand dunes that does not mean you don’t know where you want to go. You have to know where you want to go. Now where you want to go may change as well but that’s a different challenge. For now, we’ll assume we have a fairly well defined goal.

I call it the Lewis and Clark method. Lewis and Clark where charged with getting to the West Coast. But they had very little idea of what was in between them and the coast. They had some scanty information available but hardly the kind that you would trust the lives of your expedition on.

So what did they do? The short and sweet version is this. They travelled for a distance. Stopped and mapped. Analyzed the knowledge they had acquired, chose the next direction and then travelled some more. Stopped and mapped. Analyzed the knowledge they had acquired and so on.

They adjusted. They took what the land would give them. If there was moose to eat, they ate moose. If there was bear to eat, they ate bear.  If the banks on the river were too steep to cross where they wanted they moved up or down stream. Take what the beast will give.

Think about the pitfalls they avoided by no having preconceived notions of how they were going to get to the West Coast.

What if they would have predetermined that they just had to cross the river at a certain place. But the banks turned out to be too high for the wagons to traverse. Someone would have started looking for a solution on how to get down and up the banks. A whole sub-project would be started to build ramps and sleds and whatnot. Because that’s what the plan was.

Time is lost. Resources are wasted. Attitudes are affected. Maybe that is what you have to do. You never know. But are there other options.

But by travelling and mapping and analyzing in short chunks, you are not married to a solution. Your mindset is geared to making decisions on what you know at that moment. You don’t have preconceived notions to fight through. Lewis and Clark could choose to move up or down stream to cross.

This path is never straight. That can be frustrating. But if Lewis and Clark had drawn a straight line on the map from St Louis to Portland and tried to strictly follow it none of them would have made it.