As a leader, it’s terrific to have great vision. But just having a vision without the moxie to execute it makes the vision an illusion.
A vision is powerful because it gives you sneak-peek at what success looks like. If you can see it, then your ability and confidence are magnified to make it happen. You often hear world-class athletes describe their vision in interviews immediately after a winning event. In the euphoria of the victory they say things like, “I’ve dreamed about this moment since I was a kid.” Hitting the homerun in the bottom of the 9th, or sinking the basket at the buzzer are like déjà vu.
Great innovators at work have their own version of victory. Bill Gates pictured a computer on every desk and in every home long before computers became a commonplace tool. That vision guided him and Microsoft to create an operating system that made computers usable for everyone regardless of their tech prowess.
But here’s the thing that makes the difference: It’s not just about having the vision, it’s about taking the bold accountable steps to do something about it. Innovation champions ask themselves the hard questions over and over again. What needs to happen next to get it done? How might I personally move it forward? Harvard Business School innovation guru Clayton Christensen calls it the “next step to done” factor. It may seem very granular, but that’s the way visions move forward.
A vision can be big, sexy, and inspiring. Execution is the gritty day-to-day grind, diligence, and fortitude that’s required to get it done. It’s no wonder there are so few people that do both exceedingly well. For the clutch basketball player, it’s shooting an extra 100 foul shots after everyone else has left the gym. Golf legend Ben Hogan once said, “The more I practice, the luckier I get.” The stunning heroic moments we witness as sports fans are the result of hundreds of hours of sweat equity. It’s the athlete perfecting execution, so when their moment comes, they can make their vision reality.
For business leaders, it’s taking the time to determine the “next step to done” and knowing that you’re the one that must drive the process. I assume your great vision is worth the effort to see it through to fruition. Are you willing to do what it takes to get there? What’s your “next step to done”?
By Steve Van Valin