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The Link Between Vision and Strategy

Henry Ford was driven by his vision of working-class Americans experiencing car ownership and the freedom that it brought. What differentiated his vision from being nothing more than a dream was that he had a plan. His strategy was to make his cars affordable through efficiencies in production such as standardized parts, limited variations, and of course the moving assembly line. This story of Henry Ford and the Ford Motor Company illustrates the relationship between vision and strategy being one of destination and map to get there.

Over the years I have been in numerous meetings where the merits of strategic planning have been debated, sometimes in a very spirited fashion. For the most part, the concept of having a strategic plan makes sense to most business people. It seems reasonable to have some kind of road map to guide the company.

The discussions though have almost always been derailed by at least one person who, based upon the belief that we can’t possibly know what is coming next, sees strategic planning as a waste of time. Their usual opinion is that changes outside of our control including the general economy, tax law, labor market, interest rates and even whether it is an election year doom any long-term plan to occupying the waste basket.

There is a myriad of reasons to have a well thought out and frequently referenced strategic plan, but focusing (for now) on just the value of it as a map to accomplish our vision, why wouldn’t we put some significant effort into it? Most of us wouldn’t go on a cross-country trip by car without a plan (even with GPS), so how can anyone rationalize running a business that way?

How about it; does your business have a strategic plan that is focused on achieving the vision?

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