There is this strange wall that rises when visionary thinking starts. I see it every time I work with a strategy client. We work through mission (purpose), and everything is running smoothly. They are able to name values, actual and aspirational, with little difficulty. Then we hit vision…like a brick wall.
The real problem isn’t so much the idea of vision as much as it is creating visionary ideas. When I talk about vision, I talk about creating a picture of accomplished mission according to desired values. Basically, what would it look like if you fully lived out your values. Seems like an easy question to answer, right? It’s really not.
Most people think you are either gifted with vision or you’re not. I just don’t believe that. I believe anyone can be a visionary thinker. It is a matter of learning to engage your brain in a new way of thinking, a way of thinking focused on big pictures instead of smaller details. Basically, learning to bring down that wall between you and visionary ideas.
Breaking down the wall is difficult, but here are three big pictures visionaries learn to see that help topple the wall.
What Could Be
Visionary thinking sometimes needs to take on the impossible. What would it look like if we were actually able to do this? Think about it. There was a time where the air above your head was reserved only for birds and kites. Someone somewhere had to dream about what it could be like to put people among the clouds. Someone somewhere got in trouble for thinking too big, for being a dreamer. Then they became famous for doing what no one else had ever done. That’s visionary thinking. What are you supposed to pioneer?
What Should Be
Sometimes visionary thinking focuses on the ideal. What isn’t right that must be right? Villages in remote parts of the world had little or no access to clean water. Children in those parts of the world died every day from easily preventable diseases. Someone somewhere knew that wasn’t the way it should be. Someone somewhere recognized that if they used their network, abilities, and appealed to the hearts of people they could make things right. Then they drilled a well and saved lives. What wrong are you meant to right?
The End Product
Some visionary thinking is product focused. What do people need that they don’t yet have? Remember the days when phones were attached to the wall in the kitchen? Remember when a computer weighed fifty pounds, came in about six pieces, and used floppy disks? Someone somewhere thought about cutting the cord from the phone in the kitchen. Someone somewhere wasn’t satisfied with that desktop monster. Someone somewhere wanted both at the same time. Then one crazy guy made it happen. Now we all have them in our pockets. What product are you meant to create?
What would happen if you scaled the wall with a sledge hammer today? What big pictures do you see for your life or organization?