Saturday, May 23, 2009

How to Create A Shared Vision

What do you do when you have partners in a relationship that are completely different - have different skills, backgrounds, and thought processes?

Is it possible to make it work with partners who are as different as day and night, when they think and act differently in nearly everything they do?

Absolutely!!! And to be completely frank, I believe, that DIVERSITY is something that should be celebrated as a gift, not a barrier to long term success. But before you get too far in the celebration, you better figure out if you have two very important things before you consummate the relationship:

1. Common / Shared Vision
2. Trusted and Open Communication.

Without these two elements, you will not only struggle, but eventually fail.

Unfortunately, diversity with relationships is usually seen as a time bomb, just waiting to destroy the partnership - but it doesn't have to be the case.

It's not who you are that defines the success of a relationship,
it's what you want to create.

So as long as you both (or all) want to create something bigger than you have today, together, and can agree on what that is, the individuality of each partner becomes a benefit, not a destructive element.

The other day, I wrote the blog, Relationships Last As Long as There Is Shared Vision, where I discussed the importance of shared visions in a relationship. But what I didn't really discuss is how you build a shared vision, if you don't have one yet. Or more importantly, how do you take two or more people whose vision isn't exactly the same, and generate a vision that you can both support and even commit to? And how do you do that when you don't communicate as well as you should? The rest of this article will answer both those questions - and give you the tools to create a vision (a Partnership Constitution) that will bind the team better than if you were of the same mind to begin with.

1. Agree That You Will Create Win-Win Relationship or There Will Be No Deal

The first step in creating a shared vision is to decide that you will do exactly that. This may sound unbelievably obvious, but it is the precise step that is often overlooked and which creates the most trouble.

Each partner must, in advance, agree that they desire to create a Shared Vision (a true Win-Win relationship) that every one AGREES to completely - that all will COMMIT to with all their being, or there will not be an organization.

They must agree that if this doesn't happen, then the team will dissolve and go their own ways, with no hard feelings - this is the "No Deal" option.

Once all partners agree that they will work together, as diligently as necessary to either create a shared vision or to walk away and go their own ways, then you are ready for the next step, deciding what each partner really hopes to create.

2. Each Partner Must Have Their Own Vision In Mind

The key to creating a shared vision is for each of the partners to know what they want individually first. Who do they want to be? What do they want to create? Why do they want to create it? How do they want to create it? That's right, each partner must know what they want from life and from the partnership before they walk in to discussion . . . or they may be persuaded by "group think".

It's not good enough to just have these thoughts in your mind, they must be written down so they become independent of the individual who owns them - they must begin to live and breath on their own, just as the shared vision eventually will.

3. All Partners Must Listen "Empathically" To Each Others' Vision

Now the tough work begins (as if the work to this point hasn't been tough). Each partner needs to not only understand their own vision, but empathically (from the perspective of the owner) understand each partner's desires for the future of the partnership. This requires communication at a deep level - listening to each persons ideas, reading their thoughts and understanding their hopes and dreams (from their perspective - not their own).

This will take time and considerable effort. But by going through this process, each partner will have a better understand of the other, and will gain new perspective on what is both possible and what is not.

4. As a Team, Brainstorm and Write The Shared Vision - Capturing / Encapsulating The Most Important Elements Of Each Partner's Individual Vision

By the time you reach this stage, this becomes almost irrelevant, because you will have gained such a deep understanding of the hopes and dreams of each other. But don't stop before you finish - consummate the relationship by capturing the moment in written form that can be referenced and reviewed time and again in the future. And before you walk away, make sure that each partner signs the document, as if it were a binding contract to each other to support the ideals and principles that lay before you all.


Finally, let me leave you with a single thought.

If you are like me and so many others who are trying to create something bigger than yourself, then at some point you are going to have to bring others onto your team - whether you want them to be partners . . . or employees. The more you understand about the concepts of creating a vision with partners, the more you begin to understand the elements of leadership and will be able to bring others on board for your life's adventure.

Learn these techniques, they will serve you well, in both personal and professional relationships - on that I stake my reputation.

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