A vision without a plan

I was speaking with a colleague recently about the phenomena of big visions, and how if those big visions are not surrounded and supported by healthy, rigorous, and ongoing organizational structures, that vision will have a tough time getting off the ground. Or, if that vision is already off the ground, it will have a hard time staying afloat. At the end of our call, my friend shared one of her favorite quotes. She said, “a vision without a plan is a hallucination.”

I like this quote. It’s edgy. It throws you back on yourself and makes you think. Or rethink. It begs the question, is it actually true? Is a vision without a plan truly a hallucination?

In my work as a web designer as well as in my personal life, I’ve been inspired by quite a few visionary thinkers and leaders—as I’m sure you have also. Big visions stir excitement and creativity because inherent in a big vision is the potential for real change. Change is exciting, but the key word here is potential. Nothing is given and nothing is guaranteed. It’s just a beginning, a spark. What needs to follow a big vision is the hard work and rigor of setting up supporting structures.

Enter, the plan. Ideally, the plan emerges naturally out of the vision in an ongoing developmental process. A plan is not static, but dynamic, changing and growing. If a plan is either too rigid or too soft, it will not be able to support the vision.

How many times have you experienced a visionary potential fail to manifest into something real? How many times have you witnessed a vision not only fail to flower, but sadly crumble into pieces, leaving a landscape of disappointment and disillusionment? It happens. And it’s really hard when it does.

So yes, I believe it is true, that a vision without a plan is a hallucination. And yet, that’s not the end of the story. The good news is that usually most of us over time learn from this, and pick up and start again. Hopefully with more understanding about what it takes to continuously cultivate the perfect plan to turn a great vision into meaningful reality.