It’s likely that at some point in your life you’ve been in a job interview where you’ve been asked the question “Where do you see yourself in five years?” or maybe you’re a COO who has been asked, “What do you see for this company’s future?” They are very tough questions to answer without appearing too ambitious or too complacent.
But that’s not the only thing that makes those questions difficult. They are flawed questions, to begin with. In our fast-paced, ever-changing world, how on earth can you accurately describe where anyone will be in five years, let alone a whole company?
Think of it like forecasting the weather. The further ahead you look, the more inaccurate the weather is. If you only look at the forecast a week in advance, you’re going to be shocked by the weather that actually arrives.
So, when it comes to thinking about you and your company’s future, what should you do?
Using a Vivid Vision®
When it comes to planning your company’s future, try a three-year Vivid Vision®. But, first, what is a Vivid Vision®?
“Put simply, a Vivid Vision is a document that describes what the leaders of a company envision for their company’s future and how they’ll get there. It should be around three to five pages long and include lots of detail for an inspired future.” – COO Alliance
A Vivid Vision® is basically all the hopes and dreams you as a COO have for your company all laid out for your clients and employees to see so that everyone is on the same page.
Why Three Years?
A three-year Vivid Vision® is far enough into the future to allow for some optimistic dreaming, but short-term enough to avoid having any advancements, technological or otherwise, that make your plans seem dated and useless.
Trying to visualize where your company will be further out can get overwhelming for any leader or COO. There are too many contingencies to build into your plans. Not only that, but after all that effort you put into planning your company’s future five or ten years in advance, some MIT grad will come along and render the whole thing useless by inventing some revolutionary device that completely changes the game.
As a bonus to you, three years also means that you won’t have to continually undergo the planning process. It’s a good idea to begin working on your Vivid Vision® about six months before the existing one is complete. That means you’ll have plenty of time to focus on making it come true before you need to create another one.
What Three Years Mean to Your Employees
Keeping your Vivid Vision® to three years also gives your employees a chance to wrap their heads around it well enough to easily incorporate it into their day-to-day decision-making process. It’s much harder to build something that seems so distant, such as a five-year plan, into your daily mindset.
Hopefully, you’ve hired ambitious people as well. A shorter-term Vivid Vision® allows those employees to advance and move up in the ranks without disrupting your plan. If you try to forecast further out and share a vision of the company’s future that doesn’t accommodate growth for individual employees, you might find yourself losing your best talent.
It’s very beneficial to work with young, ambitious, entrepreneurial talent that got where they are by always looking into the future. They are the type of people that will take your company places you never would’ve imagined. Problem is, getting them to scale back a bit and focus only on the next three years can be a little tricky, but the payoff is worth it.
To create a Vivid Vision®, you have to keep one foot planted in the present and lean out to test the soil of the future with your other foot. If you lean out too far, you’ll fall down, but if you don’t lean out enough, you’ll never go anywhere. It’s all about finding a balance and three years seems to be where that balance lies!
So don’t get ahead of yourself. Craft your Vivid Vision® for your company’s future three years out and get to work making it come true. Those thirty-six months will be over before you know it!
How far ahead do you think? Are you going to try planning for three years now? Let us know in the comments below!
If you have questions or would like more information, I’d be happy to help. Please send us an email, and someone from my team will get in touch with you!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2018 and has been edited for accuracy and comprehensiveness.