” Vision has become one of the most overused – and least understood – words in the language.The word vision conjures up all kinds of images. We think of outstanding achievement. We think of deeply held values that bond people in a society together.We think of audacious, exhilarating goals that galvanise people. We think of something eternal – the underlying reasons for an organisation’s existence. We think of something that reaches inside us and pulls out our best efforts.We think of the dreams of what we want to be. And therein lies a problem.All of us know vision is important, but what exactly is it?”
“A well-conceived vision consists of two major components – core ideology and an envisioned future. A good vision builds on the interplay between these complimentary yin-and-yang forces: it defines ‘what we stand for and why we exist’ that does not change (the core ideology) and sets forth ‘what we aspire to become, to achieve, to create’ that will require significant change and progress to attain (the envisioned future)
To pursue the vision means to create organisational and strategic alignment to preserve the core ideology and stimulate progress toward the envisioned future. Alignment brings the vision to life, translating it from good intentions to concrete reality…
….Instead of being oppressed by the ‘Tyranny of the OR’, highly visionary companies (and organisations) liberate themselves with the ‘Genius of the AND’ – the ability to embrace both extremes of a number of dimensions at the same time. Instead of choosing between A OR B, they figure out a way to have both A AND B.
We are not talking about balance here. ‘Balance’ implies going to midpoint, fifty-fifty, half and half. A visionary company doesn’t seek balance between short term and long term, for example. It seeks to do very well in the short term and very well in the long term. A visionary company doesn’t balance between idealism and profitability; it seeks to be highly idealistic and highly profitable. A visionary company doesn’t simply balance between preserving a tightly held core ideology and stimulating vigorous change and movement; it does both to an extreme. In short, a highly visionary company doesn’t want to blend yin and yang into a grey indistinguishable circle that is neither highly yin nor highly yang; it aims to be distinctly yin and distinctly yang – both at the same time, all the time.
Irrational ? Perhaps. Rare? Yes. Difficult? Absolutely. But as F.Scott Fitzgerald points out ‘ The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.’ This is exactly what the visionary companies are able to do.”
Built to Last : Successful Habits of Visionary Companies by James C. Collins, Jerry I. Porras)