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Vision & Priorities - What to Ask the Person in the Mirror

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Mon, Jun 17, 2024

There’s are any number of quotes about vision that most CEO and leadership teams would nod their heads and agree with. My two favorites are “Vision is the future that produces passion.” Bill Hybels, and George Washington Carver, “Where there is no vision, there is no hope.”

Reading the last one, would you ever start a business without a vision?

Too many times a business's vision is never clearly articulated.

When it is, it fails to be communicated!

My Story

About 30 years ago, I was approached by four businesspeople in Wausau Wisconsin to start a 50,000-watt FM Radio station. Ever since I’d started my career in broadcasting my dream was to own a station, and not just one but seven. I had a vision to create a better model than the stations I’d worked at. Core Values, Core Purpose, how to treat employees, customers, our creative and promotional departments. Crossroads Co Mkt Welcomes 94.7 WOFM-FMI envisioned in my mind it would be so substantially better, we would not only be the best radio station in Wausau, we’d be the best in the United States.

Did I write all this done? Did I share it with my partners? Did I share it with my team?


Was I afraid to share it with my partners fearing they’d change or ridicule me?


Was I afraid it might change over time, and I’d have to redo it?


Did I lack the confidence to share and commit to building it?

Very Likely.

While I’d always written down goals, created activities/built a system to achieve them, which propelled my success, I didn’t write this vision for my partners and employees to see when I finally got the opportunity to live my dream.

Did we succeed without this?


The station sold 4 years later generating a 3x ROI.

Did I achieve my dream, the vision I had for building a premier broadcasting station that would be the envy of others?


Now as a business coach, we demand you create a specific, clear, vision of the business you want to build.

In What to Ask the Person in the Mirror: Critical Questions for Becoming a More Effective Leader and Reaching Your Potential, Robert Steven Kaplan recommends several important steps beyond just asking the right questions to get a clear vision, he suggests your vision answer why you’re in business (Why or Core Purpose), and you create not more than 5 priorities to focus on to achieve your vision.

In this 2-minute video, Kaplan shares that most business issues stem from a failure to have a clear vision.

Questions to Develop Your Vision

Kaplan recommends gathering your leadership team together off-site to do a vision exercise asking some of the following questions:

  • Why do you work at this organization? You could work elsewhere; why do you work here? What do you love about this organization?
  • What would you like to tell your grandchildren about why you worked at this place for thirty years of your life? Again, you could have worked elsewhere; how will you explain why you chose here? To what great cause/ accomplishment has this organization contributed?
  • What would you like this enterprise to look like in ten years? What would you hope to say that it accomplished?
  • What are the distinctive competencies of this organization? What would the world lose, or forgo, if it didn’t exist?

This is exactly what I and Scaling Up/Metronomics coaches do to create your vision, to build cohesiveness, and alignment.

See examples in A Clear Vision Equals Greater Employee Engagement – Business Growth and Swimlanes: When You Know Where You’re Going, You Know You’re Great

Vision & Priorities - What to Ask the Person in the Mirror -1What happens in this setting?

Kaplan’s discovery equals mine, and is illuminating, “It often helps them understand, in many cases for the first time, why they have been at loggerheads for months or years over certain key decisions: they were unaware that they each had visions for the organization that were somewhat at odds with those of their colleagues. Typically, they make comments along the lines of, ‘Now I understand why you’ve been so stubborn in pushing for initiative X or action Y! Now I get it. If I had understood your motivation earlier, I think I probably would have agreed with you, rather than disagreeing with you all this time.’ In many cases, these visioning sessions help colleagues gain a new understanding of, and a new respect for, each other. It also forces these executives to challenge each other and refocus on true core competencies. Some of those core competencies may have evolved over time.”

This echoes his video on why many organizational problems stem from the lack of a clear vision. Cameron Herold’s Vivid Vision is another great tool to craft your vision.


Your business needs a vision. You need to discover why you’re in business. We call this process in Scaling Up and Metronomics as your Mission or Core Purpose.

I’ve written on Core Purpose previously including Extraordinary Results - Purpose, Priority, and Productivity, Winning on Purpose - NPS Leaders Out Pace Good to Great Companies, P-SQUARED (PASSION AND PURPOSE) Morten Hansen, Great at Work – DENVER ScaleUP Summit, and of course Simon Sinek in Start with WHY – The Golden Circle Story.

Defining the Key Priorities

priorities-resized-600Kaplan shares, “Having fifteen priorities is the same as having none.” This occurs when leaders fail to take the time necessary to decide on what’s truly important. Learn how to narrow priorities in the book or contact Positioning Systems for a two-day workshop to create your vision and determine your 3-5 priorities!

Communication, and overcommunication, is critical. In most cases, leaders don’t communicate frequently enough, or deeply enough, for their employees to “get it.”

Kaplan encourages, “Try this test with your people. If they seem unsure, what your vision and priorities are, multiply by five the number of times you communicate the vision and priorities.”

How much is enough?

“Repeat it enough that employees start to anticipate and mimic you.”

Articulate this message so often employees begin to say, “Here comes Mr./Ms. X; get ready for the vision and key priorities A, B, and C!”

My version is, “About the time you’re getting sick of sharing your vision, is the time your people are just starting to get it!”

Ensure your senior leaders do the same with their direct reports and employees.

You need to know first where you’re going before you can answer most of the other key questions in What to Ask the Person in the Mirror.

Get started here first! (Ask us for help.

Kaplan offers these Suggested Follow-up Steps

Creating Your Vision and Priorities - Suggested Follow-Up Steps

To create an environment where everyone is inspired to give their best, contact Positioning Systems to schedule a free exploratory meeting.

Let’s help you to turn your business into a growth organization!  

Growth demands Strategic Discipline.

time__energy_management-resized-600When leaders struggle, often there’s a mismatch between how they spend their time and the most pressing needs in the business. Next blog we explore Managing Your Time from What to Ask the Person in the Mirror.

Building an enduring great organization requires disciplined people, disciplined thought, disciplined action, superior results, producing a distinctive impact on the world.

Discipline sustains momentum, over a long period of time, laying the foundations for lasting endurance.

4Dx Cadence of AccountabilityA winning habit starts with 3 Strategic DisciplinesPriorityMetrics, and Meeting Rhythms.   Forecasting, accountability, individual, and team performance improve dramatically.

Meeting Rhythms achieve a disciplined focus on performance metrics to drive growth.

Let Positioning Systems help your business achieve these outcomes on the Four most Important Decisions your business faces:












Positioning Systems helps mid-sized ($5M - $500M+) businesses Scale-UP. We align your business to focus on Your One Thing! Contact to Scale Up your business! Take our Four Decisions Needs Assessment to discover how your business measures against other Scaled Up companies. We’ll contact you.

NEXT BLOG – Managing Your Time - What to Ask the Person in the MirrorImprove Managing Your Time - Follow Up Steps (What to Ask the Person in the Mirror)


Topics: Business Vision, Vision & Purpose, What to Ask the Person in the Mirror, Robert Steven Kaplan, Vision and Alignment

Challenges of Scaling Up a Business 







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Positioning Systems Brand Promise

1. Priorities: Determine your #1 Priority. Achieve measurable progress in 90 days.

2. Metrics: Develop measurable Key Performance Indicators. 

3. Meetings: Establish effective meeting rhythms. (Cadence of Accountability)  Compounding the value of your priority and metrics. 

(BRAND PROMISE GUARANTEE): We will refund all compensation if our disciplined coaching and proprietary tools fail to meet your expectations.

Certified Gazelles Coach

Doug Wick, President

Positioning Systems


The Strategic Discipline Blog focuses on midsize business owners with a ravenous appetite to improve his or her leadership skills and business results.

Our 3 disciplines include:

- Priorities
- Metrics
- Meeting Rhythms

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