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The vision thing

I REMEMBER a scene from a Monty Python sketch where a father and son were looking out from a second-storey window. They were gazing out over the estate owned by the father, a gentleman of obvious wealth. He said to his son in a beautifully cultured, British accent, “One day son, all this will be yours”. The son, looking puzzled, paused, looked up at his father and asked, “What, the curtains?” This scene always conjures up in my mind the word ‘vision’ or in the son’s case, lack of it. It conjures up the ability to see past our nose and look into the future, even when it appears bleak. It is generally accepted that, for organisations to succeed, they must have vision; perhaps more so today than ever. Destination set, the course can be determined. Most organisations set their course by identifying the objectives or goals or aims they need to achieve to reach the destination. You can call them what you like, they relate to the same thing. For the sake of this article I will refer to them as objectives. They describe what it is that we intend to do. Some are broader in scope than others, but they come back to one key thing – purpose. Clarifying this purpose in uncertain times with the people making the journey will take you in the right direction. With your staff ... • Ensure they are aware of the mission/purpose statements of the organisation and that they understand what it means. Where possible, involve them in the process of developing purpose/mission statements for application at their level. • Break the big picture up into manageable chunks. Specify some clearly defined objectives for their area. Things that they can achieve. • Document the objectives and give staff a copy to read. • Ensure the objectives are free of jargon and are easy to read. • Specify only the ‘what’ and ‘when’ - the ‘how’ comes in the planning stage. • Check that staff members understand what their objectives are. Do this by asking them what they think they mean and how they will be involved in trying to achieve them. • Set achievable objectives. Even a donkey will only follow the carrot on a stick for so long. • Set objectives that will stretch and challenge them. The sense of satisfaction they derive once having done it will be far greater than if the objective was easy. • Set objectives that reflect today’s realities and comply with revised organisation policies and practices. • Provide a budget that will support the desired objectives of the work group. • Check that they understand how their job fits into the organisational context. • Explain the major things they are expected to achieve through their work. • Identify and agree the key performance indicators that will be used to measure whether objectives have been achieved. • Prepare a time-line that specifies when key performance indicators should be met.

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