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How to Reframe Your Vision to Capture People’s Imagination

By Tim Elmore | September 1, 2022
How to Reframe Your Vision to Capture People’s Imagination

I spoke to a fellow CEO recently about his organization’s vision. He explained the statement was accurate to the products his company sold but that it didn’t “move anyone.” When I asked what their vision was, he shared it word for word: “To be the best service company in our industry.” 

I agreed with him. While it was a big statement, it was logical, not emotional. vision, generation, leadership

What vs. Why: How a Vision Statement Gets People Invested

WHAT VISION SHOULD DO TO OUR PEOPLE AND CUSTOMERS

Mission statements clarify what we do. Vision statements clarify what we see as a result. But to simply summarize them in rational terms won’t elicit the best effort from your team nor will it move your customers. Doubtless it must be simple, but it must harness the hearts of people. When we simply state our vision in terms of money or activity, it usually doesn’t speak to the human soul.  We must communicate our vision in ways that:

  • Speak to their heart
  • Seize their imagination
  • Solve their problem. 

Marianne Williamson summarized the idea best: “Your playing small does not serve the world.” 

QUESTIONS TO REFRAME YOUR VISION

Former CEO of Best Buy, Hubert Joly, beautifully illustrates how to reframe an organization’s vision and to turn that company around. When Joly assumed leadership of Best Buy, they were in decline, losing $1.7 billion a year. Not only were tech companies like Amazon, Apple, Google and others stealing their customers, but those tech companies were also vertically integrating. Everyone realized that customers often visit a brick-and-mortar store to try out a product, then purchase it online to save money. Best Buy had to reframe. Mr. Joly believed Best Buy’s first step must be to answer some big questions to set themselves apart. I’ve added to his list:

1.     What does the world need?

2.     What are we good at?

3.     What are we passionate about?

4.     What is the future about?

5.     What can we monetize?

Hubert Joly decided that Best Buy was suited to become the brick-and-mortar stores for online companies who wanted to vertically integrate, allowing customers to try before they buy. They could offer a section of their store to Amazon or Apple and even provide staff support. They would partner instead of compete. Then, he wanted Best Buy to match lower online prices, which his board did not think was smart. Yet, Joly convinced them to do it. It worked. 

WHAT THIS LOOKS LIKE

Best Buy’s story teaches us that our vision must be about more than money or competition. Vision must feel large, even unorthodox. People want to be a part of something that’s very important and almost impossible. So, while Best Buy used to be about offering the best value on electronic products, he reframed it. Joly said they were not in the business of selling TVs or computers. And they were not fundamentally a retailer. “We’re in the business of enriching people’s lives by addressing key human needs, whether it’s entertainment, health, productivity, or communication.” And they were, indeed, able to monetize it. By the time Joly stepped down in 2019, Best Buy’s shares had soared 330 percent. The money came, however, because the vision was about more than money. Revenue was a by-product. 

“You and I both know that people just don’t get galvanized by, ‘I need to double our net profit,’” said Allianz’s CEO Oliver Bate. Additionally, only certain personalities are motivated by “edging out the competition.” So, the question remains: what can you rally people behind? 

THINK HUGE, THINK HEART, THINK HELP

To capture people’s imagination, you must think huge, you must think about their heart, and you must think about what it really helps the world. That’s how leaders envision.

At Growing Leaders, our mission is to empower the emerging generations with skills to lead in real life. Our vision? “We imagine a world improved—even transformed—by millions of young influencers who solve problems and serve people in their communities.”

In an important scene in the movie Invictus, South African president Nelson Mandela asks South African National Rugby team captain, Francois Pienaar, “How do you inspire your team to perform at their best?” Pienaar responds instantly, “By example.” Mandela agrees but pushes him to think even bigger. “How do we inspire ourselves to greatness?” The rest of the film is about how Mandela and Pienaar did that together. They reframe the nature of what it meant for that team to win. It was more than competing for a World Cup. It was about bringing a country together that had been fractured by apartheid. Winning could mean uniting a nation. Miraculously, that underdog rugby team did win the 1995 World Cup and played a gigantic role in uniting a racially divided nation. The work ethic and motivation of the team rose to incredible heights because it was about more than winning a game.

McKinsey and Company’s Dominic Barton summarized it best: “As the leader, you have the power—and the responsibility—to raise the level of ambition in your organization.”

Looking for more leadership development resources?

Speaker, author, and leadership expert Tim Elmore has devoted his life to developing leaders that add value to others both personally and professionally. As CEO of the non-profit organization Growing Leaders and in other roles of influence, he has been able to train more than 500,000 leaders in hundreds of organizations worldwide. He is also the world’s leading expert on the emerging generation and generational diversity. His new book, A New Kind of Diversity, seeks to close the generational gap and leverage differences among generations as strengths instead of weaknesses – pre-order your copy today.

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