Ability to Envision and Execute

In the April Insights we explored the Vmax DRIVE model as a means of evaluating leadership team capability against the two capabilities of having the ability to envision a future state and the ability to execute on that vision and make it an embedded and sustained reality.

This month we are going to explore the underlying measures in each of these capabilities so that we can more fully understand how they work and, importantly, how they interact. 

For the ability to envision there are four dominant measures covering how creative processes are implemented, how focused on customer needs, how aligned to strategic aims and with what degree of purpose.

Creativity is the first measure with outstanding leadership teams being able to create a transformational vision that truly shifts the organisational agenda and ensures that it is able to operate effectively in future environments. This requires not only a clear vision of how the organisation needs to change in order to maintain or increase its competitive position but also a clear understanding of how the market itself may change. A highly transformative vision that is located in a sound understanding of future markets is engaging, but classified as dreaming nevertheless. At the other end of the spectrum, we have visions that are incrementalist and demonstrate low levels of creativity – these tend to be improvements on the lived experience of today and generally are focused on solving today’s problems rather than taking the organisation forwards in any significant way.

Customer focus is an important element of understanding how the market may shape in the future, along with competitor activity and technology improvements. The reason we separate out customer focus is that without a clear understanding of how customer needs will change and how they can be satisfied, we can fall into the trap of being beguiled by our own product innovation and find that there is no market for what we have developed. Many organisations have gone this way and found that competitors who are fully attuned to the emergent and changing needs of the customer are more successful and have a more sustainable business model.

Alignment to the organisational vision and mission is the next measure that we focus on. We see many cases of visions being led by a particular function and, whilst championed by that team, these visions tend to be narrow in their construction and do not create the level of understanding, and ownership across the broader organisation. Highly capable leadership teams envision the future with a team focus, co-creating the future in a way which is strategically aligned and value generative.

Clarity is the last of the four measures in this domain – on the basis that the true measure of communication is what is understood as opposed to what is said, the vision needs to be clear, compelling, and purposeful. Easily understood by people across the whole organisation so that they can buy into the future and make their personal commitments to deliver their part in a connected and committed manner. Often we hear leadership teams say that people will understand in time but world class engagement begins at the very start with a vision that has clarity, purpose and generates passion.

There are similarly four dominant measures in the ability to execute domain and these cover how tasks are understood and delivered, how engaged the delivery team is, how agile the team is and finally the degree of alignment of the supporting systems and processes.

Task management is an obvious element of the ability to execute, and we see a scale here that, on the low side, has a functional approach to delivery. Such an approach is often disjointed and silo-based with people and teams doing what is best for their part of the business without a full understanding of the need for highly connected ways of working. This is seen up to and including the Connected phase of organisational maturity (covered in previous Insights) and has a focus on task completion and compliance. Highly capable teams on the other hand take a Co-creative approach to task management and ensure that all parties have the opportunity to contribute to the task architecture as well as the delivery processes. In this way task management is always aligned and value driven – the key focus being not on whether the task was done but on how completion of the task moves the organisation towards its envisioned future state.

Engagement follows quite naturally from a Co-creative approach to task management and flows all the way through the execution phase. Highly capable teams ensure that everyone in the organisation understands their part of the goal cascade and delivery processes and then works in an integrated and committed way to deliver value. The difference between a team that understands what needs to be done and a team with personal ownership of the tasks is huge and well worth the investment to ensure that all. Available synergies are accessed and optimised.

Agility is an essential element of any execution process – we all know that plans tend to get outdated very quickly and that leadership teams need to adapt and adjust their approach whilst maintaining a high focus on the North Star of their vision. As someone wisely said, “if you rigidly stick to your plan you will end up at a place you used to want to get to.” Understanding the strategic and operating contexts and how they change and flex through time is a critical skill that then enables highly capable teams to seamlessly and agilely shape their approach to meet prevailing and emergent circumstances, whilst always focusing on achieving the vision.

Systems and Processes are often overlooked as drivers and enablers of change. They need to be aligned to the vision and enable the organisation to effectively bridge the gap between the present and the future. In low performing organisations we see legacy systems and processes maintained “because that’s what we do around here, and they have always worked for us.” In world-class organisations, this mindset is woefully inadequate – we need to see systems and processes as enabling mechanisms that encourage and support us to work together in a Cocreative manner to deliver our part of the delivery plan. This requires us to take an outcome approach to systems and processes and to recognise the genuine value they can deliver when they are aligned and enabling.


These measures provide a more detailed understanding of the DRIVE model and help us to focus on identifying strengths and developing a deeper capability to envision and deliver change within our organisations. Each of the measures has a clear underlying requirement for a Co-creative mindset and a genuine desire to work at an organisational level – achieving the DRIVE quadrant is evidently not possible with a silo approach and a disconnected mindset. The elements here all work together to create an organisational synergy that envisions a clear, compelling and commercially-centred future state and then aligns all resources to co-create a pathway to deliver this as seamlessly as possible – in essence a DRIVING organisation.


We challenge you to be the very best you can be and fully support your leadership team along the journey to change.

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