Several years ago, my oldest son and I had the idea we wanted to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa – 19,340 ft. That was our vision. However, the idea alone was not sufficient to get us to the top. If we’re not careful, as leaders, we can get so excited about the destination, we forget that vision alone won’t get us where we want to go.

What we needed beyond a vision was a plan. We needed to include things such as when to go, how to get there, training and personal fitness, appropriate equipment and clothing, and perhaps most importantly, we needed a guide to help us turn our vision into reality.

Our guide came highly recommended, he was a young man named Teacher – at the age of 34, he’d summited the mountain over 300 times! He was an extremely good leader. Each night, my son and I discussed the leadership principles and practices we had seen our guide demonstrate during the day.

To get to the summit, there would be many decisions made – both tactical and strategic. One very important decision that had to be made: which route we’d take to the top.

Teacher would make this important decision on our behalf. It was a decision that needed to made BEFORE the climb began. Strategic Plans always need to proceed Operational Plans. To make this decision, Teacher had to consider many factors – there are eight different routes to the summit. I’m guessing there are even more paths your organization could pursue as you work to achieve your goals. Which one will be best? Which will increase your chances of success?

Teacher had to consider the weather, the difficulty of each route, the time required for each one, the experience of those he was about to lead, our physical strength, etc. THEN he could best choose the route. That’s a great metaphor for the essence of strategic planning – considering all the factors we have at our disposal, on which route will we attempt to guide our organization?

Don’t confuse a vision for a plan. Pick a summit you want your organization to climb, then build a plan and start climbing. The view from the summit is amazing![GLS_Shield]

Author: Mark Miller

Mark is a business leader, author, communicator, photographer, husband, and father. He spends his time helping leaders grow.