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What is a Shared Vision?

Aug 17, 2007
So what makes a vision successful? Everyday companies try to create a vision that will lead them into the future but seldom does that vision ever impact the organization. The reason for this is that the vision is created by a few and never becomes a 'shared vision' of the entire organization.

Peter Senge, in his book "The Fifth Discipline" describes a shared vision as "... a force in people's hearts, a force of impressive power....At its simplest level, a shared vision is the answer to the question, "What do we want to create?" " A shared vision is a picture that everyone in the company carries in their heads and hearts.

So what does a shared vision do for your company? It converts the company into 'our company'. It creates a sense of commonality and gives coherence to diverse activities. It creates excitement and makes an extraordinary company. It allows everyone to work together. It creates a common identity and a sense of purpose. It encourages new ways of thinking and acting. It gives courage and fosters risk taking and experimentation. Basically without a shared vision, that vision you spent time creating is pointless and meaningless. And without a shared vision the learning organization cannot exist.

What is a learning organization? A learning organization is one that continually learns and improves. A learning organization is one that learns faster than its competition, one that taps the knowledge of the entire organization and does not only rely on the top person. A learning organization learns from its failures and creates a new paradigm.

Imagine trying to learn from your failures if you are not part of a learning organization. Instead of learning people will pass blame, try to hide or ignore their failures and in the end the entire company suffers. In a learning organization a failure is seen as a chance to learn and then possibly shift your paradigm towards how things could be done.

With a shared vision everyone has a common destination and a common picture. They then work together as a team, supporting and encouraging each other. There is no competition between people, therefore there is no need to pass blame or hide your failures.

You may think that this all sounds wonderful but will never happen, but it actually does happen. To create this collaborative environment you need:

a committed team leader - one who encourages openness, gets rid of office politics and listens to the team.
a facilitator to help learn this new way of acting. One workshop is not going to change behavior. Change takes time and practice.
a willingness to change, to examine what doesn't work and accept a new paradigm if necessary.
a structured process to lead the team.
About the Author
Graeme Nichol Arcturus Advisors (http://www.arcturusadvisors.com)works with business leaders and their teams to close the gap between great strategies and mediocre results. (Newsletter arcturusadvisor@aweber.com)
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