“We want it more than they do.” Do we want a free and democratic country for the Iraqis more than they want it for themselves? Regardless of your opinion on the merits of the Iraqi War, this is a thought provoking question. Have you ever
held a vision for someone or something that you want for them more than they want it for themselves?
In The Fifth Discipline
Peter Senge says “Few, if any, forces in human affairs are as powerful as a shared vision.” Once two people enroll in the same picture for the future, they have a shared vision. At the most basic level, a shared vision answers the questions “What do we want to create?” Whether it is the creation of a free nation, thriving company, cohesive team, happy family or trusting partnership, a vision you share stakes out the high ground. People connected by a shared vision want to accomplish something important together.
There is an exquisite dance between the personal vision of people working in the organization and their shared vision of the future they intend to create together. Shared visions energize, elicit commitment exponentially, and build community.
In 1981 Jan Carlzon became CEO of SAS, a Scandinavia airline losing $20 million a year. With a shared vision, the entire company focused on and took responsibility for serving the business traveler through the new “EuroClass” service. In Moments of Truth
, Carlzon writes, “The entire company-from the executive suite to the most remote check-in terminal was focused on service.” In the first year alone SAS increased their earnings by eighty million dollars.
It is important to remember that many but not all visions come from the top and it takes time for visions to evolve. The creation process never ends. Leaders at all levels in the organization are continuously sharing their personal visions of
what is possible and inviting others to join them in the journey. Shared visions take the long term view. They “look past the end of your nose” as my mother would say. They are a touchstone for making choices at all levels of the organization.
One of the most powerful aspects of shared visions
is what we, as individuals and organizations, must become in order to achieve the vision. Enrolling in a shared vision is always a matter of personal choice and commitment. Are you willing to exchange your life for the vision in which you enrolled? When you invest hours, days and years working for something, you are exchanging your life for it. Is it worthy of your commitment?