I had heard this phrase years ago: Marry The Vision, Date The Strategy
At first, it sounded like some cute saying a motivational speaker or business “guru” might throw out there.
But the more I thought about it the more I realized that this might be one of the most fundamental leadership principals around.
I don’t know who gets credit for using it the first time. When I do a Google search for that phrase the top result is my podcast, and then a whole bunch of marriage advice.
Recently I was reminded of this phrase during a conversation and I wanted to dust it off and get it out there to hopefully impact your business.
Let’s break down what it means.
Marry The Vision
All successful organizations have a vision for where they want to go. Most owners, even when starting out, have a picture in their mind of where they want to be, or the problem they are trying to solve, or what makes them unique in the marketplace.
There is a goal in mind for that entrepreneur.
As organizations get larger, the vision must move from the founder’s mind to the rest of the team.
Whether it is written down, shared with everyone, or unspoken – there is a vision in place.
Writing a vision statement is a topic for a different article, but to help make my point, here are some well-known company’s visions:
Alzheimer’s Association: A world without Alzheimer’s disease.
Microsoft: A computer on every desk and in every home.
IKEA: Our vision is to create a better everyday life for many people.
Nike: Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. (*If you have a body, you are an athlete.)
McDonald’s: To be the best quick service restaurant experience. Being the best means providing outstanding quality, service, cleanliness, and value so that we make every customer in every restaurant smile.
Patagonia: Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.
From those vision statements, you can get a sense of where that organization wants to go – at a bigger and deeper level.
Once a company has a vision for their future, they should (and usually are) married to that vision. For better or worse. In (financial) sickness and in health. Successfully companies do not dramatically alter their vision and goals.
How they get there is a different thing.
Date The Strategy
Let’s imagine you are wanting to take a road trip from Los Angeles, California, to New York City, New York. Explore your way through America. See the different states, cities, and terrains.
Your vision is the destination: NYC.
How you get there is your strategy.
The exact path you take to arrive at your destination is completely variable. Some of it you will decide on (which highways to travel, which places to stop) in advance.
Some of it will depend on what happens during the trip. Car troubles, personal issues, exciting roadside diversions – all of those, and more, will alter your exact, pre-meditated plan.
However, if your vision and goal are clear (your WHAT and WHY), the HOW of your trip won’t matter as much.
Applying This To Business
So what does this have to do with your business and your sales team?
When you are operating a business long enough the strategies you must employ to succeed will change over time. Maybe due to what you learn about yourselves, shifts in the market – competition and/or your customer base, or a better path to achieving your business goals.
The route you take will change but the vision will stay the same.
When you have a clear vision for your company and everyone within the organization knows what that is – then the HOW can shift easier. Fundamentally people don’t like change. But in my experience, I have found that people (especially salespeople) will accept changes to the Strategy as long as the Vision stays the same.
Your job as an owner or manager is to help your team understand that any new change is to the strategy being used. It’s to the path being taken.
Nothing is changing with the vision.
Successful Change Management is predicated on helping others understand what is changing, why it’s changing, and what is staying the same.
Make sure you Marry The Vision and Date The Strategy, and that everyone in your organization knows the difference.