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: like many other business owners we 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 the continent. This would include leading the Visibility stream, supporting the women with the will and skills to build influence and impact.
That conversation, and similar ones we’ve had since starting Visibility Co, was what we call "catching up with the vision": when, after you've put words around your most audacious ambitions, you step into leadership, take risks, make courageous decisions and put in the hard graft ... and then stop and realise your vision is taking form. You've caught up.
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 there to remind you why you're working at midnight, saying yes to projects even when you know you'll be stretched, or putting your kids in front of the TV while you draft just one last email.
In our case, our vision has evolved over time, becoming more focused on social impact after seminal insights where we’ve realised we’re either a) not doing work with values-aligned people or organisations; or b) have seen the outcomes 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 and 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 is this:
By June 2021, our three-year vision is accelerating towards us. We are congruent with our own methodology and our new business 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 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, and wish for every person who has a powerful ambition burning a hole in their heart.
What is your vision - for your life, leadership or your organisation? If you're keen to be guided through a process to articulate and then catch up with your own vision, or set one for your team or organisation as part of one of our individual, group or organisational programs, be sure to contact us. Or if you’d like to learn more about vision, you can read our insights on bringing vision to life on our blog.
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.
If there’s one thing we’ve seen get in the way of senior leaders managing change this year, it’s underestimating the relationship between core or organisational strategy and communications strategy - with huge impacts to time, resourcing and outcomes. Here’s how to make both strategies thrive so that the sum of the two becomes greater than the parts.
We acknowledge the Traditional Owners — the Kulin Nations, particularly the Wurundjeri, Boonwurrung, and Wadawurrung people — upon whose ancestral lands we live and work. We pay respect to their Elders, past, present and emerging, and acknowledge the pivotal role that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to play within the Australian community. Sovereignty was never ceded.