>MANILA, Philippines – With core values laying a foundation, and with commitment to a mission pushing us to set up a structure on that foundation, it is necessary to finish a portion of that building, according to our dream and wish, by a certain timetable. This is where vision comes in: We see a portion of the entire edifice we are setting up finished by a certain deadline.
It is clear that an entire edifice cannot be finished in one go. We have to go by stages. We can complete the first stage of the edifice first, and we set a timetable for doing so. The second stage follows with a subsequent timetable; and so it goes with later stages, until the entire building is completed within our lifetime.
What we aim to finish at every stage should be a “dream.” It is what we see ourselves becoming by a certain date sometime in the distant but foreseeable future. It is what we see ourselves achieving within three to five years as we go about the serious business of pursuing our life-long mission. Vision, therefore, involves what we see ourselves becoming and achieving within a given period of time.
The time horizon for our mission is coincident with our life-time of work. This can be as long as 50 years, sometimes even longer. But the time horizon for realizing our vision is much shorter: It can be as short as three years, although generally many individuals prefer a slightly longer period, say five or six years. Those working in the Philippine government, for instance, prefer a six-year vision period since the ordinary length of an Administration is six years: It is therefore more practical and natural for them to think of a six-year horizon for a vision, during which they aim to bring into reality the dream they have.
In general, the vision period should be of moderate length. It should not be too short, e.g., a year would be too short for accomplishing a dream, which articulates a “big, hairy, audacious goal” or “BHAG.” Since a “stretch goal” is involved and would need to be met, enough time has to be given for a vision period. By most accounts, three years would be the minimum length.
The other extreme of having too long a vision period should also be avoided. This is because a “stretch goal” articulated in the vision should be concrete enough to motivate and galvanize all of our energies and efforts. To give us that push, a vision period should have a foreseeable end. In this regard, ten years would be just about the longest time-horizon for a vision period, recognizing that for most people, it is difficult to see beyond ten years.
It should be stressed, however, that rules of thumb are purely suggestive. Whether three years as a minimum or 10 years as a maximum for a vision period:
This is not etched in stone. A vision period allows for flexibility: What works for people is what counts. And the key ingredients for a vision that works are: There is a definite end-date or deadline for realizing a vision; and the vision articulates a concrete “BHAG,” i.e., it contains a “stretch goal.”
In addition to an end-date, a proper vision statement should also indicate the niche we wish to carve out for ourselves, and if possible, within that niche the place we intend to occupy or garner for ourselves. The niche represents, for instance, the specialized sector where we want to be counted under; and the place we aim to occupy in that sector should also be targeted.
Once the first portion of the building is completed according to our wishes or dreams, or once we have realized our vision, within schedule, for the first stage of the building, we can then move on to the next portion and the next stage with its corresponding vision period or time horizon.