Some of you are seriously considering skipping this entire chapter – the words “outcomes” and “measurable” don't sound like ideas you want to think about too much.

Keep reading and give us a chance to change your mind.

Here is the vision statement of a large organization that we came across recently (the names have been changed to protect the innocent):

Be the global leader in customer value.

This statement is frankly nothing more than a collection of words that say nothing about the core mission of the organization. What's worse, it probably took weeks or months to craft, and it's highly likely there was an expensive contract with a consultant to provide expert assistance.

We can laugh, but most of us have been on one of these kinds of groups. With the benefit of hindsight, we can't believe we were part of this kind of process. How did it happen? It starts with the best of intentions. You're at the first meeting of a new network or organization. Before long, someone says, “I know what we need – a vision statement.” There's lots of head‐nodding around the table – it's a concrete task after the initial meandering conversation. “Finally,” each person says to themselves, “we've got some direction.” Everyone eagerly dives in.

But after a while – sometimes not until several meetings have passed – the group finds itself still trying to find language that everyone accepts. They move from specific descriptive ...

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