Without a Clear “How” Your Organization Vision is Irrelevant


Your organization might have a good grasp on its vision: you know where you want to go. Most business or ministries I have worked closely with have a very well-defined vision statement. Some talk about their calling, and some still have what I have heard described as a “sense of destiny.” But in my experience an organization falters or fail to reach its vision not for the lack of direction, but by not having a clear understanding of the “how.”

the importance of the how

Vision, by its own nature, is the “what” question every organization must answer.

What are we all about?

What are we accomplishing?

What defines success for us?

All these are important and even primarily important, meaning, without clearly answering them, the following questions do not matter. But once that’s done, every organization must answer the next and critically important question, “how are we going to do that.”

In my experience as a consultant, organizations that are stuck often understand their “what” but have been stopped on their tracks by not answering clearly the “how.” These leaders can see where they want to be and can imagine what that preferred future looks like, but they cannot figure out the proper steps that will get them there. It feels like the times you found yourself on a busy highway where you can see your destination from your car, but you cannot figure out the right path to get there. After all there are too many options, too many ramps, access roads, and exits and a clear path to your destination is nowhere to be found.

Take a look around your organization. It might be a ministry, a business, a church even a legacy not for profit. Your vision statement might be framed on the wall for all to see, but if your strategy to get there is not clear, then chances are you are not going to make it. Being busy and being effective are not synonymous.  Your organization might be trying a lot of “new stuff,” throwing things up on the proverbial wall and hoping they stick.  While that will keep everyone busy, you will not move you forward. Without a clear “how”

How well has your organization defined its “how”?

  • Barry Whitlow

    So true and so frustrating – living that now. I absolutely “hate” bumping up against my limited skills, knowledge, and intellect. It’s easy to say, “well just go find a good mentor or coach… or research what works on the net.” Sometimes that’s just not a viable solution. Although vision and outcome may be crystal clear, circumstances may require that you do a grass roots launch (meaning no $$/seed capital). Then throw in on top of that you’re launching something that has never been done before (resulting in a lot of “that’s nice” but garners little tangible support). We who have been given a unique seed that has been planted in our hearts by God, a seed of an idea that just might change the world, can’t quit and MUST work at “finding the how” till our dying breath.  Arrggg!!

    • Barry,
      That’s the struggle of every pioneer with a break-through proposition. Since it has never been done and therefore not proven, the money is slow to come. I hope you find your how and make it happen.

  • We are working on the How for our college ministry, Ignite. There are a lot of ways we can live out our vision and a lot of opportunities to do so, but we are working on determining what is our How, the how that we are good at, that we can excel at and that we have the resources to start doing. Great post, Maurilio!

  • Chris Spradlin

    Great stuff!!  I am in the middle of defining this as we speak.  The “how” can take much longer than one can think…but this is the critical work of actually getting something off the ground.

  • On point! The worth of any vision is the difference it can actually make. Thus execution is just as important…

  • Well said. Without a plan for “how,” a vision is simply a dream.

  • Brett W. Gould

    One of the speed bumps that stops people from getting the “how” to bring results is wrapped up in one word. Preference. Organizations with a crystal clear vision (who they are and why they exist) become frustrated in their “how” development due to preference. It’s one thing to HAVE a vision, it’s a completely different thing to have an organization full of people willing to sacrifice everything (including personal preferences) for the vision.

    How many times has leadership been in a board room arguing about what color the new carpet should be, when the vision remains framed on a wall…instead of walked out to bring the change they were called to bring?

    Love your posts, Maurilio. Always gets a great discussion going.

    Thanks for sharing!


    • Thank you for the kind words, Brett. Glad you stopped by.

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