Clarifying vision and business case

Chris Collins, Founding Partner

Chris Collins Head Shot

Clarifying vision and business case

Chris Collins, Founding Partner

There is one common element in all successful business transformations: a clear vision of what is needed to be achieved from the outset.

In this, the next of our expert series, we look at why visions for change can be so tricky to define and how they can work in tandem with a good business case to guide your change programme from start to finish.

People choose to drive change for a number of reasons – to become more efficient, to offer new products & services, to improve service levels. To achieve this change often requires an investment in both time and money. Being clear on the destination, and its benefits, is how you’ll protect your investment and reap the rewards.

Don’t leave your vision open to interpretation

Change usually starts with someone’s vision of how things can be different. That vision could come from a senior leader looking to improve business performance, or from an operational team looking to improve customer experience in just one area.

A common pitfall is that the vision that is created can be interpreted differently by different people.

Most visions are too nebulous. They sell a dream but fail to make a clean statement of direction. As a result, each function interprets what’s required to achieve the vision differently, and as a result, your change project perpetuates multiple ways of working.

A good vision will clarify the impact of your change on all the structural elements of the company strategy or business model. It’s a lot more than a paragraph and should always be accompanied by a business case.

Appeal to rational, emotional and political needs

Your vision for change should build alignment. It’s that north star that everyone can follow and its job is twofold – to make the change happen and then to make it stick. To do that it needs to provide a clear, fixed outcome against which people can measure their progress and also inspire and motivate them to want to get there.

Part of defining a vision is to think through what it means to different people across your organisation, and why they should get on board. Some people will be motivated by rational facts, usually linked to their departmental targets. Some will get on board based on how much better it will feel for them or their customers, and some by how their involvement will advance their own careers or personal development goals.

Similarly, it needs to be articulated through a blend of numbers, words and images to engage different people. Knowing the vision is one thing, making it clear and compelling is what will make it successful.

Understanding this will allow you to create a more rounded, compelling vision of what the final change looks like, and also help you sell the business case to different stakeholder groups.

Use the business case to test the vision

A business case is an important tool which will ensure your vision is practical and viable. It’s important to recognise its role through the project. Upfront, its job is to promise enough to get the project off the ground; but longer-term your business case needs to be realistic enough that it can actually be delivered. There’s no bigger credibility-killer than a business case that everyone knows can never be met.

Another critical factor is being able to show that you understand the dependencies; which elements of the business case will meet what part of the vision? Revenue enhancement probably has lots of dependencies so you will need to show how the elements of your change programme will impact each of those.

The business case clarifies what elements of the vision are most important and why. It’s a really useful tool to ensure everyone has understood the vision fully and in detail.

Keep the vision and business case front of mind

Your vision and business case are tools for the whole of the change project, not just the beginning and end, which is why they need to be in a practical, workable format that can guide you on your way. A paragraph or two cannot achieve that.

It’s important that your project governance allows plenty of checkpoints where you can review whether the business case is working – and if it will still allow you to deliver the end vision.

Creating clarity from chaos

When you work with us, we articulate your vision clearly. It’s hard to create that clarity when you are inside an organisation, with one eye on existing delivery.

We always start by identifying the real sponsor, as well as all the stakeholders who will govern the project and lead delivery. We identify who could help sell and deliver your vision, as well as who is likely to scupper progress along the way. We listen to their concerns or issues and involve them in finding the solutions that allow them to transform their passion from criticism to advocacy.

We have 30 years’ experience of readying people for change. The critical factor in that success has been getting teams crystal clear on how their vision will impact everything that’s happening in the organisation, not just the delivery of their project.

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