Susan Gibson on ‘Leading With Vision Is Vital’

The Technical Agility Conference 2018, for which Temenos+Agility was a title sponsor took place in Bangalore’s Novotel Hotel on August 10 and 11, 2018. The sell-out event saw participation from professionals across industries and had domain experts in Leadership, Agility and Business Transformation share valuable insights with the participants.

Ms. Susan Gibson, the CEO of Temenos+Agility was a speaker at the event. The speech -which she delivered on the second day-was on the topic, ‘Leading with vision is vital!’

A key reason why organizations fumble in the modern era when changes are rapid is the lack of strong vision among leaders. While tackling this extremely relevant issue, Ms. Gibson went further than delivering a speech. She invited engagement from the participants, guiding them through the different steps in envisioning a personal vision and sharing it with others.

At the outset itself Ms. Gibson stressed the importance of building a community around technical agility, thereby putting the idea of a personal or team vision in perspective. For exploring one’s vision and sharing it with others naturally leads to fostering communities.

The intro Ms.Gibson gave at the talk

“We all hold a vision. It’s inside all of us.”

Ms. Gibson pointed out the organic nature of true vision with these words.

Rather than an ideal that’s imposed from outside, vision is inherent in us. To quote her, “Vision starts with the self and grows from there.” It could be a well-formed vision, or a vague idea that’s been running in the back of your mind. Either way, it’s something that’s found in your own self and nowhere else.

Only thing is, we sometimes need a little help in bringing that vision out.

The exercises which Ms.Gibson then detailed were meant to do just that.

Exercise 1

The first exercise started with the participants contemplating the question, “What is my vision?”

Ms. Gibson reminded the participants that while pondering the question, a vision could not be arrived at through tunnel view. She exhorted the participants to think of themselves as not compartmentalised selves. But rather, they should try and view all the selves holistically- including professional, parenting and other selves.

Participants in a group, as part of the first exercise

This would help us bring the whole context of our selves to everything that we do- a natural approach to living and functioning as human beings. Ms.Gibson said that such a view would lead to “a good state of flow as we come together as human beings.”

To make envisioning their vision easier, the participants were asked to think about a future date- and envision where they wish to be at that point in time.

The participants then formed  groups of some eight members each, with everyone creating their own visions with the aid of a simple visualization tool- called Influence Maps- involving pens and papers. Words, phrases, doodles and sketches all came together to form a visual representation of individual vision.

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An example of influence map, drawn by Ms. Gibson

In this context, let’s take a look at the benefits of personal vision

Benefits of personal vision:

There are three major advantages of exploring and realizing your personal vision.

1)The Personal Vision could help define yourself as a change agent. As the term makes clear, it’s a personal vision- meaning it’s unique. It is, in many ways what distinguishes you from other change agents.

2)It acts as an inspiration for you to progress- something like a destination which you are determined to reach. The idea of a destination is powerful in another sense as well: It helps you chart out a course for your future progress.

3)The third advantage comes from sharing your personal vision with others in your team and vice versa. By doing that, the team members would come to a better understanding of each other. This paves the way to better communication amongst the team members, helping the team become stronger in the process.

Once their personal vision was envisioned, the participants were asked to share their vision with the other members in the group. Those who were not talking were urged to be in a “deep listening mode” whereby they would stay curious and appreciative of the other person and their vision.

Participants forming groups

Exercise 2

“You need to share your vision about 10 times to make it real.” This insight Ms. Gibson shared with the participants formed the crux of the second exercise.

In this exercise, the participants were asked to find people from other groups with whom they would share their vision. They were encouraged to share the same with as many people as possible this way.

A rather animated session of sharing vision ensued. Mutual exchange of ideas, listening skills, comprehension- all these and more came into play.

A participant sharing his vision with someone outside of his first group

This exercise also has a strong resonance with the idea of building communities Ms. Gibson mentioned at the beginning of her session. For such an exercise exemplifies the concept of better communication that sharing of vision could foster in a team.

Sharing vision and building communities

While the skills an individual brings to a team are important, equally important is the ability of a team to function as a cohesive unit. The stronger the team performs as a unit, the better the chances are for them to achieve a specific goal. While multiple factors contribute to this- like the shared stream of experience of the individuals, cultural backdrop etc., one element which helps bolster a team is smoother communication amongst the team members.

Sharing of vision helps in this regard. Each person explained his or her vision and the reasoning thereof to the rest of the participants. A better understanding of the person’s aspirations and the values they adhere to- based on which the vision comes to bloom- was thus garnered by the participants.

Participants sharing their vision with even more people

The participants articulated and then communicated their vision to the fellow-participants, thereby giving the others a glimpse into their deeper self. Also, by conveying the vision to others, each participant internalized their vision even more, making it a stronger part of their self.

As the session drew to an end, the participants had shared their vision with at least four other people. Going out of the conference hall, they were encouraged to share their vision with even more number of people, and also to use different Agility techniques to refine their vision.

A delighted Susan Gibson at TAC 2018

To download Susan Gibson’s book of Influence Maps, ‘Drawings from the heart’ follow this link

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