Vision: Seeing around the corners

In the time we have been producing video projects, it seems we have heard a thousand “visions” from our clients of what they desire to communicate to their audience. It is our job to interpret their vision into a message worth communicating. On the flip side, more often than not, we must cast a vision for what we see in our heads in a way the client can understand without them being able to “hold it in their hands.”

Vision lives in an intangible space that is not concrete.

I think instead of being asked, “What is your vision?” I would rather be asked, “What do you see for the future?” because these days the word “vision” is becoming more and more correlated and sometimes confused with words like mission, motivation, purpose- and those words have enough weight to bear without adding a heaping scoop of vision on top. In my opinion, we have to remove the metaphor that has been attached to the word “vision” and distill it to what it really means: vision is the ability to see.

People interpret vision differently and because of that, vision can be difficult to identify. For us, we have found some indicators that have risen to the surface when we feel like a strong vision is in our midst.

Our vision indicators:

  • Vision keeps you up at night, thinking about what could be.
  • Vision inspires those who catch a glimpse of it. It is contagious.
  • Vision must be articulated so clearly that people can see it through your eyes.
  • Vision is the only thing that inspires people to move to a place they cannot see.

If it doesn’t do any or all of these things, it’s not a vision, it’s an idea.

You’ll know you have a clear vision when you hear someone else communicate it and it matches what is in your head.

It’s also important to recognize that vision should not be limited by a goal. It should not be a period at the end of a sentence. As you work through your vision, you will most likely find your vision growing into something vastly different than it started as and far past where you thought it would end. However, it is important to share an initial framework at the outset of your vision:

  • What is the problem you want to solve with your vision?
  • Who does your vision affect and in what way?
  • What could a tangible “win” look like for those whom your vision affects?

Sharing a glimpse of the framework gives a holistic picture and helps people understand the goals within the vision so that they have the opportunity to exceed them.

Vision is the glow of light in the distance. You can’t quite make out what it is, but you know that it is where you want to be.

Vision grows while you are in the process. A vision that does not leave room for change and collaboration is just a plan. Unlike a vision, a plan does not inspire people to get on board and buy-in throughout the process. A plan lays out the facts and lets people decide whether or not they believe in it right from the start. A vision allows people to develop ownership while it is being implemented. Plans are not bad, but a good vision provides a framework that evokes emotion and allows others to develop a plan within it.

Plans don’t inspire people to help you get where you want to go.

Everything you do, every idea, should be held up against the vision to see works, if it makes sense. While in the process of building your event, product or service, if an idea or a part of your plan does not check out with your vision, then shelf it, adapt it or kill it. Vision moves both the heart and the head, both of which should not be compromised. Once you’ve discovered and defined your vision, it is your most valuable asset. Protect the potential of your vision coming into fruition with your life.

Recently we were asked to produce a film for our friends at Leadercast that examined what vision means to the CEO of SAP, Bill McDermott, as well as his colleagues that follow the vision he casts every day. Last year, Bill suffered critical injuries to his eye from an accidental fall. Despite doing everything possible, his left eye could not be saved. In developing the creative direction for this project, some interesting analogies came up paralleling physical vision to professional vision. Ideas of keeping others close to help you with your blind spots and being distracted by things in your periphery all became very interesting and inspired how we developed the interview questions. During filming in NYC, we asked Bill the question, “What is vision?” His answer was simple, “Being able to see around the corners.” It was a mission statement for vision. It was the banner waving to help people to remember to dream, to be inspired, to try to envision the things that have yet to exist.

At RETRO 8 FILMS, we are right in the middle of all of this. Over the last year or so we had a vision for something more than what we are currently doing. We found that we enjoyed serving our clients in greater capacities than video projects. We had the vision to start an agency- and so that’s where we’re headed. All we have is a vision so far, and we are following that vision. We don’t have a name for it. We don’t know what the logo will look like or what typeface we will use. We have no idea what the “About Us” section will say, but we all know is how it “feels.” We have the vision for what it could be and are beyond excited to put skin on this dream that is within us. The initial vision was not cast for this agency with a bunch of answers, but rather with room for those invited into the process to speak into how the vision is brought to life. This was intentional. If you want to have an army of followers charging the battlefield on your behalf, share a vision that inspires people’s hearts and minds, invite them into the process and sit back to see what they will accomplish.