Why Vision Isn't Enough

We hear it time and time again- great leaders have vision.

They see where things are going and seem to be aware of trends that have yet to develop.  As a result, young leaders often lean heavily towards vision and think that it’s ok to neglect the nursemaid of vision- strategy.  


There are a ton of young executives who think they want to be the next Steve Jobs or Jeff Bezos.  The problem isn't that Jobs or Bezos arent' great, they are.  The problem is that new leaders mistakenly think that both men found success all by themselves.  The magnitude of teamwork that goes into implementing Amazon or Apple's vision is beyond huge.  

I can honestly say that it wasn’t until a few years ago that I really appreciated strategy.  Let me explain.

A seminarian I know was asked to do some youth outreach at a nearby church.  He was a prayerful guy from another country and was spending time in Jersey during his pastoral year.  I think that his superiors, all much older, were just happy that this young seminarian wanted to do anything with young people.  They gave the support and this young man had the vision.

Unfortunately, his vision wasn’t enough.  After inviting some people and putting together what he thought was a solid program, things lagged for several months.  Attendance was low and eventually the program was shelved. The seminarian finished his pastoral year and then moved on to another assignment.  

He had the vision.  He lacked a strategy for reaching young people.  He wanted to play chess without studying how the game is actually won.

This is the mistake that a lot of young people make in church work: they have energy and ideas but haven’t been trained in the best practices for making it all work.  Maybe it’s a problem of the systems that organizations create.  Maybe we don’t mentor young leaders enough so that they can be successful for the long haul. 

In writing this, I’m thinking that we need a checklist for any initiative that has vision.  It might include something like this: 

  • People around me who can implement vision ____
  • A timetable for when this program will occur ____
  • A budget ____
  • A sense for how this idea will be branded/marketed ____


What can you do to include more strategy the next time you feel like casting vision?


Photo courtesy of MTM