Any parent of young children has had this question asked of them. We start out on a journey having given our children all the assurances that it will be fun and where we are going will be worth it. We load them up with things to do, goodies to eat and games to play hopefully to distract them from the distance to be travelled.
It’s not long however before they call out "are we there yet, are we there yet?" Because they have no means of identifying what the destination looks like and no means by which to measure the time and distance they start to become restless. They begin to view it in their own terms and measures and it all becomes boring and tiresome.
If we apply this analogy to how individuals or organisations define their vision they often fall into a place where parts of their enterprise will be asking the same thing.
We understand that the starting point for a good plan is the mission or vision; however in many cases these statements have become more about branding and image, than a clear destination. The focus is on making an “inspiring” statement, something that is “attractional” or something that makes us feel good rather than take us to an identified place.
A strategy is essentially a positioning or an approach which you or an organisation is taking, in order to reach an objective or “destination”. It will be impossible to implement however without this being "tangible" and measurable, and you must be able to "identify" it when you get there.
Whilst a plan with a statement "go west" may seem like an exciting one, it’s not until you are somewhat along that journey that you will realise that this statement or "vision" is left wanting. It provides an unclear base for next level planning, resourcing or even risk management. For instance "how far west" are we going, or “do you mean due west”?
If the destination or location is not clear, then appropriate risks and a strategy involving your "positioning" or "approach" cannot be developed or addressed.
This is why many organisations fail to move forward and why the people within those organisations struggle to align any efforts to measure or credibly invest in what needs to be done or even identify what may be a problem.
If your people can't articulate your destination, see that you are going the right way, and be able to recognize when they get there, then two things will happen.
Firstly, they will lose interest and become disengaged from what they are doing and from the leadership and secondly, they will eventually look for somewhere else to go!
Is it time to get off the bus and take a look at the destination label on the front? Where are you going? Is it clear to all who are on-board and anyone who may want to get on?
It’s been well versed that, if you don't know where you’re going, then anywhere will do! This may be fine for drifters but not for leaders.
Will you know when you get there? Are you on the right road? Do you have enough fuel to get there? How long will it take?
So when you hear, "are we there yet", what will be your response?