We are big believers in visioning at Zingerman’s. We’ve seen firsthand how it can improve our organization and the personal lives of those who use the vision process.
Vision: what success looks like at a specific point in time in the future, written with enough rich detail (physical and emotional) that everyone knows when we have gotten there.
A vision can be for a future state that is years, days or hours away. Regardless of the time-frame, consider what will success look like at that moment in time? A vision doesn’t outline how you’ll achieve your definition of success (that’s what strategic plans are for!), rather, it describes the desired destination so well that you’ll know when you’ve arrived. The key to a successful vision is being descriptive so that you inspire and engage anyone who reads it, especially those involved in bringing it to life.
Here are FOUR really compelling reasons why to write a vision:
Reason #1: Just thinking about something that may be possible isn’t going to make it happen.
Visioning , on its own, won’t get it to happen either, but writing down your inspiring, strategically sound preferred outcomes can clarify what YOU want to do. Clarification is the key. If you dig deep and think about what you really want and commit to making it happen, you can start to do the right work to get there. Communicating the final vision to someone (or a group of people) allows others in your circle to know what you are looking to do and gives them the opportunity to provide any help they can to get you there. Not to mention, sharing it can create a sense of accountability as you work towards your goal, and accountability is a great motivator!
Reason #2: Sometimes, writing a vision can help you to uncover goals you didn’t know you had.
It’s not uncommon to start the visioning process and uncover things that are important to you, although you may never have considered them as such. I’ll give you a personal example to shed light on this point. Shortly after I started as a trainer at ZingTrain, I asked Stas’ Kazmierski, (then ZingTrain’s co-Managing Partner), to share his knowledge with me about visioning over coffee. After all, Stas’ brought the idea of Visioning to Zingerman’s in the first place, assisting Ari and Paul with the first vision for the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses (written back in 1994). Stas’ suggested that he and I develop a class together and make it available at Zingerman’s. So we did, and I invited my wife to attend. As we went through the class, my wife and I kept to ourselves and each completed a first draft of a vision on our own. After we finished, we compared notes and realized that we both wanted a different neighborhood culture than we had at the time for our young family. But after assessing our current living situation, we thought it could never happen… we believed our house was not worth enough and that we wouldn’t be able to make our common vision a reality. What did happen, however, was that it got us both talking with our friends, family and coworkers about this preferred future. One such friend that we shared this vision with was a real-estate agent and an assessor, and by sharing it with him, my wife and I started getting traction on our vision. Our assumptions about our house were wrong and shortly after preparing our house for showings, it sold. And it sold for enough that we were able to make our vision of living in a better neighborhood a reality. We put in the work and shared our vision far and wide and made it happen!
Reason #3: A vision can be really good at clarifying what you don’t want.
Just as a vision tells us what we want to do, it can be just as effective at telling us what we don’t want to do. If you have a clear vision of where you want to go, it’s easier to evaluate opportunities. Because Zingerman’s 2020 Vision says that we’ll stay in the Ann Arbor area, we don’t spend organizational time researching offers to open elsewhere.
Reason #4: A vision allows you to be proactive about the future rather than reactive.
Each of us spends a great deal of time, energy, and resources to best manage the problems that pop up in our lives day after day. When all is said and done, it can be exhausting. A vision can serve as the beacon, a shining light, placed out in the future where the things you want to happen are occurring. It doesn’t mean that there won’t be problems along the way, let’s be clear. But as you work toward your vision, you’ll be doing the things that you chose to do and will be solving problems that are related to the amazing outcomes you desire. There is a better chance that you’ll enjoy the journey if you’re excited about where you’re going.
While this list is by no means exhaustive, it does highlight a few of the big reasons we advocate so strongly for visioning here at Zingerman’s. Check out the resources below, whether you’re hungry for more information on visioning...
Why and How Visioning Works [ARTICLE]
…or ready to write one of your own!
Secret #7: Writing A Vision of Greatness [PAMPHLET]
Creating a Vision of Greatness [SEMINAR]