The audacious vision that drives Visibility Co


Julia May

It was 5pm on a Friday afternoon on a chilly October last year and we were about to have the final Zoom call for the week. It was the end of a tough week: my co-founder at Visibility Co, Sarah, and I had spent six months steering our business and our families through COVID, and the previous five days had brought some big strategic decisions, challenging conversations, early mornings and late nights. We both felt worn out.

An hour later, as we finished the call we turned to each other and could see that we each had tears in our eyes. The call had been with Colleen Begg, the co-founder of Women for the Environment Africa, a new movement supporting African women in conservation. In the call, Colleen had asked if we would help to design and deliver the one-year leadership program for 20 extraordinary women from across Africa. This would include leading the Visibility stream, supporting the women with the will and skills to build influence and have a bigger impact.

So why were we crying? That conversation, and other similar ones we’ve had since starting Visibility Co four years ago, was what we call catching up with the vision: when, after daring to put words around our most audacious ambitions, dodging self-doubt, stumbling through shitstorms and putting in the hard graft, we stop and realise that our vision is taking form. It’s the best feeling. We love it when it happens for us and we adore it when it happens for our clients.

Vision is an integral part of the work we do; the cornerstone of every strategy we create, and it’s the one part of our own strategic process that we never scrimp on. It’s the lighthouse sitting atop the rocks, reminding us why the hell we’re up working at midnight, saying yes to projects even when we know we don’t have the time, or putting our kids in front of the TV while we draft just one last email.

Our vision has evolved over time, becoming more focused on social impact and movement-making after seminal insights where we’ve realised we’re either a) not doing work that lights us up or working with values-aligned people; or b) alternatively, do see the outcomes and feel the particular brand of joy that emerges out of purposeful work with visionary people.

So what is our vision? We have two: one is our big hairy three-year vision, from which our short-term visions and strategies hang. The second is a shorter-term vision which while being inspiring and motivating to us, has more of an operational bent. Of course, not all visions are for sharing - most of the ones we work on for clients are for internal strategic purposes. But we’re happy to share ours!

Our big hairy three-year vision is this:

By January 2023, visibility is a proven weapon that powers leaders, communities and movements to contribute to systems change. Our methodology is recognised, systematised and foolproof, creating its own movement and is symbiotically elevated by a global community of radical activators. We are served by a sustainable and multi-faceted business model. Our visibility is a beacon for others: we are our own best case study for the three pillars. We feel in flow and in our power.

Our 12-month vision (due to be updated!) is this:

By January 2021, our three-year vision is accelerating towards us. We are congruent with our own methodology and our new model is the new normal. We are supported by an aligned team and a trusted band of advisors who publicly advocate for our methodology and vision. Prominent launches, collateral and collaborations are fueling momentum and commercial success.  Revenue is up by 20% and we feel in flow and in our power.

So what sits behind our vision? We feel a deep sense of urgency around the problems the world faces: from climate change, to health crises, to human rights abuses whose time has well and truly come, to gender equality and the prevailing, flawed model of leadership which needs to be upended. We want to be able to tell our kids that we did all we could to tackle these problems, by getting behind the leaders the world needs and equipping them with the kinds of tools that will help them shift the dial: mindful leadership skills, strategic capability, vision and the ability to influence, engage and inspire. It doesn’t matter to us where those leaders are: in business, nonprofits, governments or movements. Change-makers are everywhere. We want to walk beside them.

So it’s conversations like those with Colleen from WE Africa (more on that later), where we can tangibly feel our vision emerging into the light. It’s easy, at those moments, to check in on what we’re trying to achieve and see if an opportunity or idea fits. These are the moments we live for.

If you’re keen to articulate and then catch up with your own vision, set one for your team or organisation, download our free e-book, or contact us to chat about how we work.

Get in touch and let us know: what’s your vision? Are you close to catching up with it?

About Visibility Co.

Working at the intersection of leadership, strategy and visibility, we seek to be strategic provocateurs and catalysts of systemic change, supporting you to unleash the potential within so you can create a better world from wherever you are.

While we’re not big on labels, we’re often referred to as social impact and communications strategists, or strategic leadership advisors, or visibility experts.

Fancy words for a business, led by Julia May and Sarah Anderson, that brings together purposeful leadership, strategy and communications in truly integrative and innovative ways.

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