Creating a vision is essential in any change process because a vision offers us a strong mental image of something we want to create in the future and it can motivate us towards that future. When the vision involves others, then engaging them in a shared vision is extremely valuable. It is more powerful than developing a strategy particularly if it is developed as an image rather than using words.
It is particularly powerful in inspiring people to work collaboratively with leaders and engage in their future.
I was discussing vision recently with a coaching client and was reminded of the work of Marjorie Parker with the Norwegian company, Hydro Aluminum. For me, this is such a powerful example of creating a vision that worked in very practical terms that I want to share it with you here.
In the 1980ties a new MD was appointed to one of the Norwegian plants, Karmoy Fabrikker (KF) which was coming out of a period of crisis, and Ms Parker was invited in to work with him. As a result of early discussions, a vision was created for a future state of Karmoy. This was based around a garden metaphor that was drawn up by a local artist and was then presented to the workforce to inspire them to design their interpretation of the vision for their parts of the organisation.
As a practical measure of the success of the whole exercise it is noticeable that there was a recorded increase in productivity of 33% over a three year period when the process was developing, and in addition, safety increased and environmental emissions decreased.
So what are the lessons that can be taken from this example? There are many reflections which are included in the book, Creating Shared Vision by Marjorie Parker, and I have noted several here.
- There was an initial assumption in the company that employees are responsible people, have a desire to make a difference, and that the employer has an obligation to ensure that employees reach their potential.
- There was an attitude that a long term approach to competitive advantage was needed.
- Visioning opened up possibilities for all employees within KF to have clear direction and to have permission to discuss the future and how best to organize their work.
- Employees have taken the opportunity to develop their ideas and have opened up their creativity.
Do you have any examples of creating an inspirational vision to share?