I have a…. vision statement

Dream I’ve just watched a great video with Kevin Roberts, Saatchi & Saatchi’s CEO, where he is talking about leadership, culture, following your dreams and work/life integration (note: not balance).

The most interesting thing I think, and one that has started me thinking differently, is his response to the question of how to share vision and culture. He states, flat out, that he doesn’t believe in vision. I was surprised, but then he said:

“Martin Luther King did not say ‘I have a vision statement.’”

It’s a good point. Roberts says that we have to have dreams, and a purpose; a set of beliefs and values; rather than a vision and mission statement. We dream of what’s possible, of what we could make happen if we did something extraordinary. The job of leaders is to inspire people to be the best they can in pursuit of that dream.

He then says, controversially perhaps, that he doesn’t believe in strategy either; that “tactics dictate strategy”. I suspect he probably does have a very clear strategy (I can’t believe an agency like Saatchi & Saatchi is where it is without one) but I like the way he challenges the status quo, and that very linear thinking – objectives-strategy-tactics, vision-mission-values – can be restrictive if you don’t have the big dream, the creative imperative, the belief that what you’re doing can change your world.

Roberts talks a lot about the importance of getting the right people in place for a business to succeed. And that work/life balance is no longer relevant; our work and home lives are now effectively the same thing. Many of us are on Facebook together, and unless you are much more organised than I, your work friends and your home friends will all see the same you. I don’t believe you can split your working life and your home life into distinct groups any more. (Not that I’ve ever been very good at that, to be honest.)

To do well in work, your colleagues will also be your friends: people you trust, whose values your share; people you want to spend time with socially, whose children and partners you know. And if you share – and live by – your values, you’re on the way to creating a culture, where people believe that by doing their best, they can turn a dream into reality.

I’m sure a lot of PR agencies can relate to that, and I know many agencies that have a shared dream, a great culture and that inspire creativity in their teams. To bring a bit of that magic to our clients would be wonderful. So next time I do a workshop with a client, I’m not going to talk about how to create a vision, I’m going to talk about how to dream.


Kevin Roberts, mission, strategy, values, vision
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