Successful business people understand the need for a clear and compelling corporate vision. It’s why they often spend so much time defining and refining their vision. Sometimes, however, leaders spend so much time working on their vision that they feel that it has to be complicated in order to be good. In reality, one of the signs of a great vision is that it can be easily passed on to others.
Here are three tests you can try to see if your vision really resonates.
- The Comedian Test: Some people have a gift for telling a joke. Some can’t do it to save their lives. One thing great comedians never have to do is explain their jokes. Jerry Seinfeld would never explain why one of his jokes is funny. It either works or it doesn’t. If he had to explain it, it wouldn’t be funny. If you find that you constantly have to explain parts of your vision or plans to someone in order for them to get the big picture, something is wrong. Even if you work in a very complex industry, the basic solution you offer needs to be easy to grasp. It may not be simple to arrive at the solution, but the basic idea should be easily and quickly understood.
- The Burning Match Test: While this is similar to the comedian test, the focus is on brevity. People are busy and don’t have time for complicated messages. I actually watched a CEO use the burning match test with one of his senior staff. He put a match between the staff person’s thumb and forefinger, lit it, then asked him: “What is our value proposition?” The man’s fingers were singed before he could articulate the company’s unique value proposition. It sent a strong, clear message (although I think that perhaps the CEO should have held the match himself for the demonstration)!
- The Mom Test: If you want a real test of whether your vision is clear and understandable, sit down and tell it to your mother. Then—when she has friends over—have her tell her friends what it is that your company does. If her friends grasp what it is that your business does (at least on a basic level), you probably have an understandable (and achievable) vision. This is also a great thing to try with your own employees who aren’t in upper leadership positions. Ask them what it is that the company is all about—and then ask them how they think what they do relates to that vision. It could be eye opening for both of you!
How clear is your vision? Try one (or all) of these tests to see if you have a vision that others can understand—and support.