Do X in order to achieve Y

Or - what is a vision and why it is different to a strategy...

A vision focuses on tomorrow and describes what an organisation wants to ultimately become.  The strategy focuses on today and what an organisation does to achieve the vision. Both vision and strategy are vital in directing goals.

Vision? Mission? Purpose? Strategy? Objectives? Goals? You could be confused for getting these mixed up.  It's very simple.  If you reduce to the absolute basics, it's as simple as saying "Do X in order to achieve Y", where X is the strategy and plan and Y is the vision.

You'd be surprised at how many people do get it mixed up. It doesn't have to be complicated.  Whether you are referring to a team, a company or your life, being able to describe both the vision and the strategy in clear terms is essential to make progress against goals.  In fact, the labels can get in the way.  What I call strategy others might call mission.  What's important is that you know at the very minimum i) what you want to become and ii) what you need to do to make it happen. This is the foundation for aligning teams into as common direction.

Let's look at a couple of examples.

Amazon has a vision.  “Amazon strives to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, Earth’s best employer, and Earth’s safest place to work.”

How will they do that? They will "continually raise the bar of the customer experience by using the internet and technology to help consumers find, discover and buy anything, and empower businesses and content creators to maximise their success."

It's an X ("raise the bar"...) in order to be Y (..."most customer-centric"...).

Southwest Airlines?  

Vision: "To be the world’s most loved, most efficient, and most profitable airline.”

Mission: "Connect People to what's important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel"

Again, you see an X (..."friendly", "reliable", "low cost") in order to achieve Y (..."loved", "efficient", "profitable") .

In both examples, there will be a whole level or detail that goes into the strategy (the larger plan will include objectives, timeframes, measures and resources) but you can see that Amazon is doubling down on customer experience through technology and SouthWest are focussed on a low cost with great service.

Building out the detail around the strategy will involve lots of initiatives around areas each company is looking to improve or change, expressed as objectives. Each objective will serve their high level strategy to achieve their vision.  Each objective will have measures around it to assess the impact.  

If the company or organisation does this well, each team should be able to relate what they are doing to the wider strategy and see how it helps achieve the vision.

But even on a day to day basis, I find "Do X in order to achieve Y" a useful framework.  If ever I'm presented an X without a Y (a strategy without a vision), I want to know what Y is.  Vice-versa, if I am presented a Y without an X (a vision without a strategy), I need to know what X is.  You always need both X and Y, it's a cornerstone of understanding for setting goals and measuring progress against them.

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