The term vision is derived from the Latin video, from the root word videre, meaning “to see.” Whether in Old or New Normal contexts, the work of leading begins when a person or group sees the state of affairs, an alternative future, that does not yet exist, and which, in substantive ways, is better than the present. Of necessity, this state of affairs is in conflict with the present status quo.
Vision critiques the gap between the world-as-it now-is and the world-as-it-must one-day-become. Things must change and, as they do, the world will be a better place. This critique is a value judgment—the present, the “here and now,” is, in fundamentally important ways, inadequate, even “wrong.” The world, or at least the corner of it in which the organization operates, must be transformed in accordance with its directional imperatives.
Furthermore, a clearly articulated vision gives the organization guidance on two critical questions:
- What must stay the same in terms of its deep identity, operating philosophy, values, and enduring commitments;
- What future, among many alternative futures, is the organization obliged to pursue.
Collins and Porras (1996) state, “Vision provides guidance about what core to preserve and what future to stimulate progress toward”
At its most fundamental level, leadership is about energy-generating it, channeling it, releasing it, and sustaining it. Leading in the New Normal is about dispensing a particular kind of energy—the energy of a virtue-driven, collective effort in service of a noble cause. Vision Casting focuses on generating momentum. Strategy Making focuses on creating momentum-bearing structures, pathways to the future which ensure that the energy generated by the vision is effectively employed.
Aligning focuses on releasing momentum in and through members such that many are vitally engaged in closing the gap between the vision and reality. Encouraging is focused on sustaining momentum amid difficulties, delays, and discouragement. It all starts with a vision.