56. BOLD Vision Framework

1 February 2024
How can I formulate an inspiring vision?

Key Definitions

A vision is a picture of what you would like to become. You envision a future self or organization that you would like to strive for – it’s not what you see with your naked eye, but with your mind’s eye. It’s not how you look at things (your view), but how you dream to shape things.

A vision will be inspiring if it sketches an attractive long-term goal that is neither too easy nor out of reach. If it is too easy, it will simply be an objective. If it is unattainable, it will be a fantasy that people can’t take seriously. It needs to be an ambitious dream, not a pie-in-the-sky.

Conceptual Model

The BOLD Vision Framework outlines the four key elements that need to be defined to have a complete vision for an organization. At the heart is the organizational ambition (“how high do we want to set our sights?”), surrounded by the three fundamental strategic questions already discussed in the Strategic Alignment Model (Meyer’s Management Models #32). Underneath are the four BOLD conditions that need to be met for a vision to be inspiring, which are the opposite of SMART conditions (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time-bound).

Key Elements

The four building blocks of any organizational vision are the following:

  1. Organizational Ambition. While an organization’s mission should give an answer to the question “why?” (the raison d’etre), the organization’s ambition should answer “how high?”. What is the performance level the organization wants to strive for – how big, well-known, impactful, profitable, international and/or sustainable? What does future success look like?
  2. Market Position. The world outside the organization is huge, so a crucial part of the vision is to define “where to play?” – where in the market does the organization want to compete and achieve success? Which customers does it want to serve and with which other parties is it willing to deal, such as competitors, distributors, suppliers, and governments.
  3. Business Model. The next question is “how to play?” – how does the organization want to create superior customer value in future, thereby fending off competition, while at the same time dealing with all other parties in the chosen market? What are the intended value propositions, which activity system will be developed, and which resources needed?
  4. Organizational Model. The final question is “who should play?” – what does the team look like that is capable of running the business model? What type of people need to be on the team, how should it be structured, coordinated, and controlled, which culture is needed and what type of leadership is required to get the optimal result?

These four elements need to be determined while meeting the following four criteria:

  1. While SMART goals need to be specific, a vision needs to be broad. It should sketch a big picture overview of how all elements fit together into a consistent whole, using rough brushstrokes to highlight the crucial lines, while leaving out all the specific details.
  2. While SMART goals need to be realistic, a vision needs to be optimistic. It should sketch a bright, hopeful picture of what can potentially be achieved if people in the organization is willing to work hard and luck is on their side.
  3. Long-term. While SMART goals need to be measurable and time-bound, a vision needs to be long-term. It is the guiding light further out into the future, giving direction beyond the period for which the organization measures and plans.
  4. Daring. While SMART goals need to be immediately actionable, a vision needs to be daring. It should challenge people to come out of their comfort zone, think big, innovate, and stretch themselves – to do things they never realized they could achieve.

Key Insights

  • A vision is what you see when you close your eyes. A vision is not a goal that you can actually see on the horizon, but a roughly defined long-term goal that you picture in your mind. A vision needs to be envisioned, individually or with a group of people.
  • A vision needs to be BOLD to be inspiring. Pragmatic short-term aims need to be SMART, but to inspire, a vision needs to be the opposite, namely BOLD – Broad, not specific; Optimistic, not realistic; Long-term, not measurable and time-bound; and Daring, not directly actionable. A BOLD vision doesn’t give all the answers but sets the general direction and generates the desire to try to achieve it.
  • A vision needs to have ambition at its heart. At the core of a vision is the aspiration to become more than you are today. You need to determine how high you want to set your sights and that becomes the engine driving people to perform in order to reach it.
  • A vision needs to answer where, how and who should play. While ambition is the driver, a vision also needs to outline three key choices to bring the picture into enough focus. An outline is needed of the market position where the organization wants to play, of the business model with which it wants to play, and of the organizational model shaping the team with which it wants to play. All three are needed to have an effective vision.
  • A vision needs to be shared to be inspiring. Vision statements make great posters but are only useful if they are shared and internalized by the people in the organization.
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Publication Schedule

June 2024
Time Management Funnel

May 2024
Digitalization Staircase

April 2024
Leadership Circle Map

March 2024
MOVING Mission Framework

February 2024
BOLD Vision Framework

January 2024
Duty of Care Feedback Model

December 2023
Best Practice Sharing Modes

November 2023
Stakeholder Stance Map

October 2023
Status Snakes & Ladders

September 2023
Customer-Centricity Circle

August 2023
Activity System Dial

July 2023
New Pyramid Principle

June 2023  
Cultural Fabric Model

May 2023       
Corporate Strategy Framework

April 2023  
Ambition Radar Screen

March 2023
Resistance to Change Typology

February 2023   
5I Innovation Pipeline

January 2023     
Thinking Directions Framework

December 2022      
Corporate Management Styles

November 2022     
Strategic Action Model 

October 2022
Psychological Safety Compass

September 2022
The Tree of Power    

August 2022
Value Proposition Dial

July 2022
Sustainable You Model

June 2022
Change Manager’s Toolbox

May 2022
Corporate Value Creation Model

April 2022
Organizational System Map

March 2022
Creativity X-Factor

February 2022
Strategic Alignment Model

January 2022
Market System Map

December 2021
Team Building Cycle

November 2021
Disciplined Dialogue Model

Oktober 2021
Strategy Hourglass

September 2021
Powerhouse Framework

August 2021
Fruits & Nuts Matrix

July 2021
Everest Model of Change

June 2021
Followership Cycle

May 2021
Knowledge Sharing Bridges

April 2021
Innovation Box

March 2021
Empowerment Cycle

February 2021
Digital Distribution Model Dial

January 2021
Digital Product Model Dial

December 2020
4C Leadership Levers

November 2020
Rebound Model of Resilience

October 2020
Strategic Bets Framework

September 2020
Storytelling Scripts

August 2020
7I Roles of the Corporate Center

July 2020
Strategy Development Cycle

June 2020
Rising Star Framework

May 2020
The Control Panel

April 2020
Strategic Agility Model

March 2020
Leadership Fairness Framework

February 2020
11C Synergy Model

January 2020
Competition Tornado

December 2019
Confidence Quotient

November 2019
House of Engagement

October 2019
Revenue Model Framework

September 2019
Interaction Pressure Gauge

August 2019
Digital Platform Map

July 2019
Mind the Gap Model


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