Introducing the Vision Sprint: welcome your new future vision — Part 1: introduction
Products, services or experiences that leave a lasting and great impact, are all built on a common factor: a solid vision. Most people are aware of how visions from companies such as Apple and Google, or individuals like the Wright brothers, have changed the world.
Unfortunately, nowadays the concept of a vision is often simply considered a part of corporate jargon — pretentious and disconnected ideations created with overpaid strategic consultants.
However, with a strategic product design approach, you can help organisations create a future vision through a Vision Sprint. This mobilizes a company toward a clear future and helps them build successful products, services, experiences and ventures.
What is a future vision?
A lot has been said and written, mostly corporate and abstract definitions, about what a vision really is. A vision is an ambitious and forward-looking view an organisation has on how to tackle a problem or seize an opportunity. It’s as simple as that.
Although visions can be broad or narrow, they should always be ambitious, long-term and forward-looking. Short-term and easily achieved visions are not real visions but roadmap goals. Non-ambitious and short-term visions are ineffective and will fail to mobilise your organisation or team.
As something that has yet to be, visions should be forward-looking. Living in history has its perks, but you can’t build a successful organisation on something that has already been realised or done before (plagiarising someone else’s success is just unethical). As a result, we believe that a vision is always a future vision and use both terms synonymously.
What should a vision look like?
A vision should look as simple as its definition. It also needs to be SICK to be successful (we admit it’s a sick acronym and, believe it or not, not actually by design. Except for the K maybe…).
1. Simple: Simplicity allows you to focus, declutter, and confidently reject anything that dilutes the vision. Complexity is a sneaky devil.
2. Inspiring: A vision’s story needs to be inspiring in order to mobilise people.
3. Concrete: A tangible, visual and immersive vision that people can immediately resonate with will mobilise them.
4. Kick-ass: What do rollercoasters, vacations and festivals have in common? They’re kick-ass. Why? Because they invoke emotions. Your company needs to do the same. This way, your employees will be proud to work for you and your customers will wish they could work with you.
Why should you (re)create a vision?
There are many reasons to create or recreate a vision:
1. You’ve stumbled upon or identified a problem for which no solution exists yet.
2. Research revealed an area of opportunity to tackle.
3. Changing business environments or contexts.
4. Your organisation needs a turnaround since product, service or experience sales are down.
5. Internal innovation (such as R&D) will give you a competitive advantage.
6. To improve customer, user and stakeholder experiences.
7. A company needs powering up after/while going through a crisis or major corporate event.
8. Simply to innovate.
We believe that a major reason to create a vision is to mobilise your organisation or team. As aforementioned, a vision is an organisation’s ambitious and futuristic view on how to tackle a problem or opportunity. Unless you’re a solo entrepreneur (where you are that vision), your organisation or team has to be mobilized and united in pursuit of the same direction and vision.
How do we help organisations create a vision?
Rather than visions dominated by corporate planning, we help organisations create ambitious future visions through our strategic product design approach. Using our methodology, we help organisations focus on the inspiration, design, validation and change management of their vision. Following this, we aid clients as venture builders, helping them move down the pyramid, drawing out the first strategy and product design.
Our involvement adds resources and expertise, creates focus to establish a vision, and challenges the organisation to push their ambitions. We accomplish this by organising a Vision Sprint, which is actually a sort of marathon. A Vision Sprint identifies and seizes new opportunities with a solution, and in turn, this solution becomes your new future vision. Vision Sprints shake up industries by challenging what is out there and seeking out new ways of approaching or looking at things.
We must clarify that the Vision Sprint format is not suited for seizing current opportunities, keeping up with competition, or improving current products and services. Vision Sprints are about leading the way into something new. If clients need to focus on making incremental improvements to existing products or services, we recommend doing a Strategy Sprint, Design Sprint or Design Track instead.
A major advantage of the Vision Sprint is that it validates a vision. The vision remains validated even if a product (or part of a strategy based on that vision) doesn’t work as envisaged. In fact, our approach transforms a failed product into a learning milestone. A common mistake made by organisations is to consider vision, strategy and products ultimately interconnected; where if one thing fails, everything will come crashing down like a house of cards.
Although the ‘sprint’ of a Vision Sprint only takes a week, a lot of preparation and after-work to convert the results into action means it turns into a weeks-long marathon. Similarly, a Vision Sprint takes an average of 4–8 weeks, depending on the preparation and post-sprint phase. The dedicated sprint week is held one week into this 4–8 week timeframe, where everyone comes together to make the magic happen.
In the coming weeks, we will release a series of articles with further details on different stages of the Vision Sprint:
1. Introduction (this article)
4. Vision Sprint
5. Acceleration Sprint and post-sprint follow-up