Vision and Organizations

To choose a direction, an executive must first have developed (as indicated in chapter 3), a mental image of a possible and desirable future state of the organization. This image, which we call a vision, may be as vague as a dream or as precise as a goal or mission statement. The critical point is that a vision articulates a view of a realistic, credible, attractive future for the organization, a condition that is better in some important ways than what now exists.

A vision is a target that beckons. When John Kennedy set a goal of putting a man on the moon by 1970 or Stanford Weill aimed to make American Express the world's leading investment banking company in five years, they were focusing attention on worthwhile and attainable achievements. Note also that a vision always refers to a future state, a condition that does not presently exist and never existed before. With a vision, the executive provides the all-important bridge from the present to the future of the organization.

To understand why vision is so central to managerial success, we only need reflect on why organizations are formed in the first place. An organization is a group of people engaged in a common enterprise. Individuals join the enterprise in the hope of receiving rewards for their participation. Depending upon the organization and the individuals involved, the rewards might be largely economic, or they might be dominated by psycho-social considerations – status, self-esteem, a sense ...

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