Wayne Gretzky once explained his hockey success by saying, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it was.” Gretzky didn’t have a crystal ball that allowed him to predict the future. His experience and the game plan helped him understand where the puck would be going. Plus, he was talented enough to be able to respond to the changes that occur in every game so he was always positioned to cover those possibilities.
We also don’t have crystal balls to help us predict the future. Actually, we can have something much more powerful than a crystal ball. If we create a vision for where we want our organization to be in a certain period of time and develop strategies that will enable that vision to be achieved we can create the future we want for our organization.
A vision helps us define a preferred future for our company, our business, or any organization we might lead. Instead of accepting whatever happens, we shape the future of our organization through visioning and strategic planning. This allows us to tell our organization what to do instead of letting it be blown here and there by outside forces.
Of course, this is not a perfect solution. There are outside forces that we cannot always control. Many small businesses saw their company vision evaporate in 2008 when the financial institutions began to fail leading to a severe economic downturn. These small businesses had nothing to do with any of that, but they found themselves swept away by the economic tidal wave that bankrupted many homeowners and businesses.
However, not every business failed. Not every homeowner went bankrupt and lost their homes to foreclosure. Some people actually prospered during the downward economic spiral. Why? Because they were positioned to cover this possibility.
Their vision included cash reserves that could keep them safe in a bad economy. They avoided debt so failing banks had little affect on their businesses. The vision under which they operated their companies included having policies in place that tightly controlled their accounts receivable. Their cash flow remained positive and strong.
Cash reserves and little or no debt allowed them to grow their businesses and increase their investments during the down market. Assets were being purchased at a fraction of their value in better times. Individuals sitting on piles of cash were finding bargains in the stock market knowing that the market cycle would turn itself around.
Vision allows you to create the future you want for your organization and for your own personal success. When you combine vision with good strategic planning you will find yourself consistently in a strong position. You may not be able to predict every turn and dip, but you’ll be resilient enough to withstand them, and you’ll still be in position to respond when the puck comes to you.