Is Vision Planning A Waste Of Time?

I’m not sure what I think about visions and vision planning. I understand the necessity and value of being clear in what you think, determining were you plan to go, and being thoughtful in how you plan to get there. But I’m not sure that’s necessarily a vision.

Visions seem to be process driven, the outcome of a structured brainstorming session where you nit pick the definition and meaning of words until everyone’s so confused nobody knows what the whole thing is about anymore.

I’ve been part of several vision planning sessions (for some reason, vision planning happens in sessions, not meetings), some at wonderfully furnished luxury hotels and resorts. The time away was nice, but I can’t honestly say we got our money’s worth. We talked a lot about who we were, what we wanted to accomplish, and what legacy we’d leave. We’d debate the most minor of terms and words placed in mission and vision statements. Words like our, your, is, the, them, they’re, etc. were especially debated time and again… sometimes heatedly.

Then we’d go back to work.

At work we’d share and educate others about our vision. And we’d defend conversations and lend explanation to the vision and its meaning. We’d print statements and hand them out, maybe even make a plaque and hang it in the lobby for all to see.

It all sounds nice and like the mature and thoughtful thing to do, but I don’t think vision planning ever really helped a company or organization I belonged to. Our challenges were execution, not vision. And our vision didn’t help us execute. The whole thing was a feel good activity that confused most of those attending and left none of us better equipped to face the problems we truly held.

Without doubt, there’s value in brainstorming, discussion, and teambuilding. But there’s something about vision planning that gets weird. It’s like the group and host work hard to make the whole thing loftier than it really is, like it’s a session for some type of deeper thinking. Weird.

I’m really not sure what I think of the whole thing. How about you?

David Lee

David Lee

David is a serial entrepreneur, advisor, and investor. He has built and exited successful businesses and is now focused on investing. He holds a master's in business administration from the University of California, Berkeley.