The Vision Driven Leader

The Vision Driven Leader

Author
Michael Hyatt
Year
2020
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Review

There are better strategy books, I’ve linked to some below. This book is best thought of as an introduction to strategy through the narrow lens of a creating a vision. If you’re really interested in improving your strategy skills, you’ll need to read something else.

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Key Takeaways

The 20% that gave me 80% of the value.

  • If your vision is compelling enough, people will apply their best thinking and efforts to figuring it out. They’ll find a way to overcome obstacles and opposition.
  • Without a vision, influence fades. A vision creates a reason for people to follow you.
  • A vision is something that hasn’t happened yet, but could happen.
  • A vision is the difference between a leader and a manager
  • Leaders
    Managers
    Create the vision
    Execute a vision
    Inspire and motivate
    Maintain and administer
    Take risks
    Control risk
    Focus on the horizon
    Focus on short-term objectives
  • Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion
  • A vision should be…
    • Clear
    • Inspiring
    • Practical
    • Attractive
    • 3-5 years off
  • A good vision helps drive day to day decision making
  • A good leader makes a vision their first priority.
  • 6 pitfalls of not having a strong vision
    • Unpreparedness for the future
    • Missed opportunities
    • Scattered priorities
    • Strategic missteps
    • Wasted money, time and talent
    • Premature exits
  • Ford. A good example of a vision:
  • A car for every household… so low in price no man making a good salary would be unable to own one and enjoy with his family in gods greets open spaces”
  • You are more likely to get to a destination you like if you’re intentional about where you’re heading
  • A mission provides day to day clarity by defining the identity and scope of the business
    • A good mission answers:
      • Who are we?
      • Who do we serve?
      • What problem do we solve?
      • What transformation do we deliver?
    • They define your identity, your clientele, and your answer to your customers challenges
Mission
Vision
What a business is
Where a business is going
Now
Next
What
Where
Here
Out there
Now
Next
Brief
Robust
  • Effective mission statements are: focused, memorable and short (2 sentences)
  • Writing your own
    • Get away and clear your head
    • Believe the best is yet to come
    • Imagine tomorrow and describe what you see
  • Vision requires clarity: Make it concrete, explicit and clear.
    • Shouldn’t be abstract or implicit
  • Steps to clarity: Admit you're unclear, recognise your blinders, ask for input, process the feedback, just start!
  • For a vision to be successful it must inspire motivation to take action
  • Make your vision inspirational:
    • Focus on creating something new, think big, think risky but realistic. Exclude the how, just include the what.
  • Vision is about where you're going, and strategy is the path you're going to take
    • Vision should come first: there's no path without a destination
    • Without a path, there's no progress
  • Mission: who you are
  • Vision: where you are going
  • Strategy: how you are going to get there
  • Values: the kind of people you are along the way
  • Strategy > Productivity
    • Working long hours < working on the right thing
  • There should be a through line from the vision to your daily TODOs
  • Create an annual plan, that flows from you vision. Include what you’ll do this year to make progress on your vision (projects / initiatives [starting or stopping])
    • Set 3 Quarterly Goals → Set Weekly Objectives → Daily Task
  • The visibility problem: if your team doesn't know the vision, they can't realise it
  • The big test of your vision is if you can sell it across the company
    • to your team, leadership, rest of the company, outside the company
  • When pitching the vision: commit to success, understand the customer, think through your presentation, anticipate objections, make the pitch
    • Respect the past: State how they won last time. State what's different
  • There are no friction-free visions. The best face hardships, miscalculations and setbacks
  • The three traits that beat resistance: tenacity, integrity, courage
  • Business as usual produces predictable results.
  • Consider updating the vision as you enter new stages: startup, rising, transitioning, mature, legacy, zombie, dead
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Deep Summary

Longer form notes, typically condensed, reworded and de-duplicated.

Part 1: Vision Drives Everything

  • Kennedy committed the US to the landing a man on the moon.
  • If the vision is compelling enough, people will apply their best thinking and efforts to figure it out, regardless of the obstacles and opposition.
  • If you don’t have a vision you’re in danger of being a yes man that doesn’t stand for anything
  • Vision is the essential ingredient for successful leadership
  • There’s no substitute
    • Without it, influence fades along with the crowds; This is especially true in business. Unless you have a clear picture of the destination where you want your company to be in 3-5 years, you’ve got nothing that will inspire people to follow you
    • Leaders create things that didn’t exist before, they do this by giving the trade a vision of something that could happen, but hasn’t yet
  • Vision is the difference between leaders and managers
    • Leaders create the vision
    • Managers execute the vision
    • Leaders inspire and motivate
    • Managers maintain and administer
    • Leaders take risks
    • Managers control risk
    • Leaders focus on the horizon
    • Managers focus on short-term objectives
  • Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion

The Essential Ingredient

  • Vision should be:
    • Clear, inspiring, practical and an attractive future
  • Future is usually 3-5 years out
    • Superior to the present, so it motivates you
    • Guides day to day decision making and strategy
  • Without a vision, inertia is steering the ship
  • Vision is the initial task, the top priority for leaders

Why leaders don’t create visions

  • Downplay the need
    • Confidence and a vision together breed optimism in an organisation. Ignite a sense of risk taking, to try something new and push ahead
    • Create a larger purpose and story, our teams want something that requires innovation in their thinking and inspires their imagination
  • Leaders are confused about vision
    • It’s not mission or strategy
    • Vision is an act of seeing what the future could b,e and then articulating that potential in an inspiring, clear, practical, and attractive way, what I call a Vision Script, which the leader’s teams can then follow into the future
    • Visions can be learnt
  • Leaders don’t feel equipped
    • They don’t do it for self protection
    • They’ve never had the coaching to create a compelling picture
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The book is organised around 10 questions to...

  • Create your vision
  • Make it clear
  • Make it inspiring
  • And practical
  • Sell it to your team
  • And weather the challenges ahead

The questions work like a tool to focus on what matters and channel your efforts.

  1. Are you a leader or a manager?
  2. What difference does vision make?
    • Pitfalls of vision-deficit leaders
  3. What do you want?
  4. Is it clear?
  5. Does it inspire?
  6. Is it practical?
  7. Can you sell it?
  8. How should you face resistance ?
  9. Is it too late?
  10. Are you ready?

What’s your moon shot?

  • Propels the trajectory of your company, a destination that energises investors and employees. Excites your customers
  • Vision is about building a picture of an irresistible future
  • Vision should be big and challenging enough to scare you a bit

What difference does a vision make?

The pitfalls of Vision - Deficit Leaders

  • Having no vision works great until it doesn’t, you’ll grab at every opportunity, as there’s nothing helping you be selective
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There are 6 pitfalls

  1. Unpreparedness for the future
    1. a vision can clarify the future
  2. Missed opportunities
    1. Vision keeps us attuned to possibilities that align with the future we see
  3. Scattered priorities
  4. Strategic missteps
  5. Wasted money, time and talent
  6. Premature exits

Changing the future

  • Ford had a good vision: “A car for every household… so low in price no man making a good salary would be unable to own one and enjoy with his family in gods greets open spaces”
  • You’re much more likely to get to a destination that you’re going to like if you’re intentional about where you’re heading

Part 2: Drafting Your Vision Script

  • Direction begins with desire
    • Whats the difference between vision and mission?
      • Mission provides day to day clarity by defining the identity and scope of the business
        • Without a clear mission, you can drift off target, or in too many directions
        • An effective mission statement keeps you on task, by answering...
          1. Who are we?
          2. Who do we serve?
          3. What problem do we solve?
          4. What transformation do we deliver?
        • They define your identity, your clientele, and your answer to your customers challenges
  • A mission defines what a business is.
  • A vision describes where it is going
  • Mission is now, vision is next
  • Mission What Here Now Brief
  • Vision Where Out there Next Robust
  • An effective mission statement should be:
    • Focused, memorable, short (2 sentences)
  • A proper vision script is not a tagline, its ...
    • a robust document
    • written in the present tense
    • describes your future reality
    • 3 to 5 years in the future
  • Step into the future and record what you can see in 4 key areas:
    • Your team
    • Your product
    • Sales and marketing
    • Impact
  • You could change these 4 things! if theres something vital then add it

How to write your own

  • Get away and clear your head
    • Solitary place, unplug from the noise and day to day
  • Believe the best is yet to come
    • Don't worry too much about constraints
    • "Whenever I was working out and got tired, and I figured I ought to stop. I'd close my eyes and see that list in the locker room without my name on it" (Michael Jordan)
  • Imagine tomorrow and describe what you see
    • What needs to change so the team don't leave?
    • How will we stack up against competitors
    • What kind of innovations or processes could we invent that would help us scale our vision faster?
    • How can we become the company that would put us out of business?
    • Who do we want our customers to become?
    • Who are you spending time with? On what topics? What are you reading? Where are you going?
    • Loads of examples:
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Is it clear?

  • Make it concrete and explicit
  • Vision requires clarity
    • We expect a blueprint to be clear because its meant to serve certain information, to produce particular results. We judge them for their clarity... can they be used to produce those desired results
    • For a vision to be clear, it has to be:
      • Has to be concrete not abstract
      • Explicit (sufficiently expressed in easy-to-understand language)

The vision grid

  • Abstract vs concrete / Implicit vs explicit
  • Five steps to gain clarity:
    1. Admit you're unclear
    2. Recognise your blinders
    3. Ignorance, lack of curiosity, overconfidence, cognitive biases, time constraints, and fear
    4. Ask for input
    5. Process the feedback
    6. Just start

Question 5: Does it inspire?

  • Moved people / move people
  • For a vision to be successful it must be inspire motivation to take action
  • The 4 ways to make your vision inspirational:
    1. It focuses on what isn't, not what is
      • Step into the future, and envision best practices, what could be possible
    2. Exponential, not incremental
      • Think big
    3. Risky, not stupid
      • Are you likely to fail?
      • Does your team and stakeholders believe in it? Align to it?
      • Does the risk imperil your mission?
    4. What, not how
      • What the future looks like, not how we get there
  • Change the script: Look for real transformation

Question 6: Is it practical?

Understand the strategy and Hiring

2 considerations: Your plan and your people

  • If its practical, you will be able to work towards it and hire for it

The relationship between vision and strategy:

  • Vision has to be concrete and actionable to help with planning
  • Vision is about where you're going, and strategy is the path you're going to take
    • Vision should come first: there's no path without a destination
    • Without a path, there's no progress
  • Mission: who you are
  • Vision: where you are going
  • Strategy: how you are going to get there
  • Values: the kind of people you are along the way
  • A practical vision suggests the strategy
  • The link between strategy and productivity:
    • Most people work long hours but don't use time effectively (active non-action)
    • There should be a through line from the vision to your daily todos:
      1. Vision script: clear, inspiring, practical and attractive picture of your team, products, marketing and impact (3-5 years out)
      2. Annual plan: From that vision comes this years annual plan. What will you do this year to make progress on your vision. Projects, initiatives (starting or stopping), what will be retired
      3. Quarterly goals: 2-3 per quarter. Big 3 near term objectives
      4. Weekly objectives
      5. Daily tasks
    • The more 'business as usual ' the less likely the vision is to becoming true
    • Many paths up the mountain, stay flexible
  • Hire to your vision. Sell the company on your vision: give them meaning, excitement and purpose in your work. You can filter your hires using the vision.
  • The visibility problem: If your team doesn't know the vision, they can't realise it

Question 7: Can you sell it? Enrolling your team

  • Selling a dream means transforming a vision, into a cause and getting people to share that cause
  • The big test of your vision is if you can sell it across the company
    • Your team
    • Your leadership
    • the rest of the company
    • outside the company
  • No selling, no progress
  • Selling inside:
    • The change challenge
      • Start with those that don't like change
      • "Here's whats not going to change"
    • The personnel challenge
      • Job security, titles
      • We envision a place for all of you in this future
    • Feedback
      • Start with the team
      • Distance yourself from it emotionally
      • Don't be defensive
    • Selling up
      • No surprises
      • Share 1 on 1 to key folk initially
      • Timing is everything (don't be rushed)
    • 5 Steps for pitching the vision:
      1. Commit to success
        • Choose your battles, prepare thoroughly.
        • Get your reputation... then recommend the vision
      2. Understand the customer
        • What are their goals
        • How can you achieve their goals whilst moving everything else forward
      3. Think through your presentation
        • Rehearse, cover all the bases.
          • First: Start with the conclusion.
          • Second: Provide the background, be brief
          • Third: Provide the rationale
          • Fourth: Establish the timetable
          • Fifth: State the impact.
      4. Anticipate objections
        • Think through all the possible objections
        • Have answers for each of those
      5. Make the pitch
        • Now you're finally ready to sell.
        • Eye contact.
        • Use talking points, you provide the narrative
        • Stay focused and read the room
        • At the end, restate the recommendation and ask for the approval
        • If you get a yes, stop the meeting and leave
      6. Selling across:
        • Do so privately first
        • Actively listen and talk through their concerns
      7. Selling down:
        • Do it so much they're bored
        • Find those that disagree and win them around
      8. Selling outside:
        1. Figure out what you want to say
        2. Once you've decided on the message write it down
        3. Contact influential stakeholders
        4. Announce through press and social media
        5. Make yourself available to answer questions

        Respect the past:

      9. What we've been doing up until this point has worked
      10. State how they won last time. State what's different

Part 3: The Challenge Ahead

Question 8: How should you face resistance?

  • Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face
  • There are few constants in life, but resistance is one
  • There are no friction-free visions. The best face hardships, miscalculations and setbacks
  • How should you face resistance?
    • Semmelweis Reflex: Opposing a new vision because it upsets too many apple carts
  • Three traits that beat resistance:
    1. Tenacity : Rejection then get back up
    2. Integrity:
    3. Courage: give a voice to your heart and go on record
  • Business as usual produces predictable results. But if you want something mew, that takes vision.

Question 9 Is it too late? The power of the vision zig

  • The vision arc: Startup, Rising, Transitioning, mature, legacy, zombie, dead
  • You can zag, start a new vision at any stage, start a new arc
  • Follow all the same steps though:
    • Envision
    • Check for clarity
    • Check for inspiration
    • Check for practicality
    • Sell it
    • Overcome resistance
    • Zag when necessary

Are you ready?

  • Some men see things as they are and say "Why?" I dream of things that never were, and say, "Why not?"
  • Steps:
    1. Schedule it
    2. Get the necessary input
    3. Trust the process
    4. Tweak as you go
    5. Go ahead and launch