#003: The Relationship Between Vision and Productivity [Podcast]

In this podcast episode I talk about the relationship between vision and productivity. I share the story of becoming a divisional leader at Thomas Nelson. Better productivity would not have improved our operating results. We needed a better vision.

Episode 003 - Blog Post Art

Click to Listen


Episode Outline

I discuss how any leader can develop vision by following these seven steps:

  1. Get alone with a journal and a pen.
  2. Make sure you won’t be interrupted.
  3. Close your eyes and pray.
  4. Jot down your current reality.
  5. Now write down what you want to see happen.
  6. Share your vision with those who have a stake in the outcome.
  7. Commit to reading your vision daily.

Listener Questions

I also answer four questions from my listeners.

  • “How do you go about rebuilding vision when you lose it?”
  • “What are some helpful ways to communicate your vision through blogs and social media?”
  • “What do you do with your vision if your values change?”
  • “How important is vision when providing correction to employees or even volunteers?”

Episode Resources

I mentioned the following resources in the show:


You can download a transcript of the show here.

If you have enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe:

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Question: What have you been focusing on, productivity or vision? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://www.facebook.com/jonstolpe Jon Stolpe

    Working for a large corporation, there’s a constant push to make sure we are being productive.  That won’t change.  We have to remain productive if we’re going to stay in business.  I get that.

    But as a department manager, I also have the opportunity to lead my group with vision.  I have a vision for quality and for teamwork as we seek to meet the needs of our customers and our shareholders.  I want my team members to be proud of their work and proud of their team.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Good for you, John. This is the right emphasis.

  • http://www.michaelnichols.org/about Michael Nichols

    Timely post. I am currently working through this process with my team. Here are the 8 steps I took with my team – http://www.michaelnichols.org/developing-vision.

    Finding limited practical resources for taking the vision journey with my team prompted me to write an eBook, Creating your Business Vision. I’ll release it free on my blog next week. I’m trusting that it will be a great resource for many current and future leaders.

    Thank you again for the encouragement that you are to so many. My life and work are very different today because of your influence. Michael

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I love the idea of your eBook. Businesses REALLY need this. Often they say they have a vision, but it is not written down. Good for you!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

       Looking forward to reading your e-book, Michael. Thanks for investing your heart and time into it!

      • http://www.michaelnichols.org/about Michael Nichols

        Thanks Michele! I’m looking forward to the launch.  Be sure to subscribe to updates on my blog to be notified as soon as its available!

        Also, if you are interested in reviewing the eBook prior to release and providing feedback, send me your email address. My email is located on my blog.

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    I try to focus on both. I use a daily planner to lay out my day and find my top priorities.  Then I use a 48 minute focused work period to block out distractions and boost productivity. It’s a simple system, but it works well, especially for writing.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I agree. Both are important.

      • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

        Great podcast. Can you explain the difference between a life plan, mission statement, and vision statement? The vision statement may be a missing link for me.

        • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

          A life plan really incorporates an envisioned future (vision) and a purpose statement (mission). I was really referencing these as separate documents in a business plan. Thanks.

          • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

            I guess I get a little confused by the different terminology. It sounds like the vision statement deals with the “What,” while the mission statement deals with the “Why,” and a project plan is the “How.” 

            Just curious how far down do you create a vision statement? In your example, you created one for your division in general. Would you create one for each major project? 

          • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

            You could create a vision statement for each project or goal, but I don’t. I create an overall vision for my business (or the entity I am responsible for). Thanks.

          • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

            I really like your simple and easy to follow directions for creating a vision statement. I took a look at some of the books on vision and mission statements and was amazed at the varied and complicated terminology used. No wonder most people can’t remember or follow them.

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  • http://www.alslead.com/ Dave Anderson

    I love your step process.  I have always gained my clearest vision when I am away from my normal environment.  In November I went to a friend’s lake house for 2 days and came away with a vision for my new company.

    The other step that rang home is #4:  Jotting down your current reality.  In the Army we learned that in land navigation you must first know where you are before you can get to where you want to go.  

    Unless you know your start point AND your end point, the journey will be aimless and you will be lost.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Such a great point, Dave. It’s easier to dream of where we want to be than to honestly assess and face where we currently are.

  • Tim Richter16

    Thanks you for sharing your material it has been a blessing to me and I look forward to more episodes
    Tim Richter
    PS I love the music….can you reference the song and artist?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yes, it is “This Is Your Life” by Switchfoot. Thanks.

  • http://levittmike.wordpress.com levittmike

    I know what I’ll be working on this Saturday :-)  Thanks again for these useful tools to improve our lives, and the lives of everyone around us.

  • Pdaddy49

    I am presently reading a book by Greg Groeschel called Chazown. Awesome book on vision.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

       Groeschel is a great writer. I’ll have to check out that book.

  • http://cherionethingivelearned.blogspot.com/ Cheri Gregory

    Really enjoyed this podcast, Michael! 

    At this point in the school year, I’m focused on productivity. With so many students gone on sports trips, musical events, and sick, we’re always behind as 3rd quarter ends. My task is to somehow get us “caught up.” I have such a myopic focus on the tasks we need to complete–the books my students need to read, the grading I need to finish–that I’ve all but forgotten how these strategies fit in my larger vision for the school year.

    Step #4 is especially relevant to me right now. In doing the Complaint-Free Challenge for the 6th consecutive January, I discovered that I vent my dissatisfaction with my current reality in small bursts throughout each day. But I rarely turn toward it, confront it, name it, size it up, and make a plan to DO something about it.

    It’s time for me to get out my calendar and schedule a retreat so I can start at #1!

  • http://cherionethingivelearned.blogspot.com/ Cheri Gregory

    (Just in case it hasn’t been caught yet:  The “You can leave a comment by clicking here.” link above leads to the comments for Podcast #2 from last week…)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yes, thanks. I corrected that just a few moments ago.

  • Guest

    This is a timely blog. I can’t wait to read this in more detail tomorrow when I’ve had more sleep. It’s currently 1:39am here in Australia.

    This is the answer to the Listener Question: “What are some helpful ways to communicate your vision through blogs and social media?”

    We’ve just started a blog for our young adults Creative team which will be a way to Cast the Vision and to provide an outlet for the expression of faith. It’s raw and it’s fresh. Watch this space to see what we get up to in the next coming months!


    • http://darensirbough.com/ Daren Sirbough

      Sorry I posted this under the wrong profile so it looks like you’ll have a double. Feel free to delete this comment. The bad thing with Disqus is that if you have two separate profiles, you forget which one you’re using!

  • http://darensirbough.com/ Daren Sirbough

    This is a timely blog. I can’t wait to read this in more detail tomorrow when I’ve had more sleep. It’s currently 1:39am here in Australia.
    This is the answer to the Listener Question: “What are some helpful ways to communicate your vision through blogs and social media?”
    We’ve just started a blog for our young adults Creative team which will be a way to Cast the Vision and to provide an outlet for the expression of faith. It’s raw and it’s fresh. Watch this space to see what we get up to in the next coming months!

  • Chad Jackson

    Love this Podcast.  I have created my Life Plan but have not created my Business Vision for my team.  This really  helps me get to where I need to go.  Is there any way you can post your 10 components of your Thomas Nelson vision?  This will help me look to something as I establish my components for my business.  Thanks. 

    • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

      Chad, you can find these 10 components at this link.


      • Chad Jackson

         Thank you!  Exactly what I was looking for. 

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        You beat me to it. Thanks, Jeremy!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      You can find that here. This is the blog post on which the podcast was based.

  • http://cavemanreflections.blogspot.com/ Michael Mulligan

    Vision sparks productivity.  My new blog for the writing world has a vision statement, thanks to your ideas; any reader who views the welcome message is directed back to this site so they can learn all about vision from an expert.

    There is a 7-yr-old writer in my critique group with a vision to change the world.  The public school system has already tried to stifle her because she exhibits signs of autism, a label for people so fixated on a vision that they are presumed to have some kind of disease.  If only we could be so fixated on our visions, like the “young apprentice,”  that others would label us as different.  Her vision is so strong that she is consumed to build web sites and write books.  Do you know anyone who studies up to ten hours in a single day, at the age of seven?  I don’t think she could be this productive if she lacked vision.  Her signs autism are a blessing.  Thanks for a great podcast.

    • http://cavemanreflections.blogspot.com/ Michael Mulligan

       Oops.  Got a little “double vision” going on in the comments section.  I only posted one comment but it popped up twice. 

  • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

    In recent months I’ve become acutely aware of how I’m lacking clarity in my vision and goals. It’s possible to survive for a certain amount of time without it. But eventually you plateau at a level of activity that can’t be managed without the focus and drive of a written vision and goals. These steps provide a great framework for adding structure and drive to my intentions. Looking forward to working on it this afternoon.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Awesome, Michele. The future is bright for you!

      • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

        Thank you!

        • http://www.epicenterlanguages.com.mx Aaron Nelson

          I so get that Michele – that ‘plateau affect’ that happens when vision and mission get cloudy or pushed aside.  This podcast (as the others) have inspired me to dig in and begin dusting off and rewriting my own personal vision and my small business’ vision. 

          Thank you! 

          • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

            I’m so glad to hear it, Aaron.

  • http://www.leadtoimpact.com/ Bernard Haynes

    Michael this was an awesome podcast. This was right in line with what I am passionate about. This podcast inspired me to focus more on my vision to help others live their vision. I started a blog this year encouraging, equipping and empowering people to realize and live their vision. I wrote an article on my site titled the 5 key elements of a powerful vision (http://www.leadtoimpact.com/?p=933#more-933)  that incorporates some of the elements you talk about.

    I really appreciate what you do because it has influenced me to focus on making my vision a reality.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Thanks for including the link, Bernard. I checked out your site ‹ well done!

      • http://www.leadtoimpact.com/ Bernard Haynes

         Thanks Michele. I really appreciate the comment. I have worked hard trying to get my message out about having a vision for your life.

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

    I’ve been waffling between the two but know I need to focus on setting a clear vision for my blog and where I want my life to be in 5, 10, 20+ years from now. 

  • Dave Boots

    I pastor a church and I understand we have to preach vision multiple times.  I have a question on how to do that, do we have to have a vision sermon over several weeks or do we work it in to every sermon coherently?  

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I would do both. I would preach a vision-casting sermon once a year, but I would constantly refer back to it.

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      Dave, Michael’s point about constantly communicating vision is so important.  

      Andy Stanley coined the phrase “vision leaks” that has helped me remember why this is so important.  What he is saying is that people’s “vision buckets” naturally and consistently leak, so as leaders one of our most important jobs is to constantly fill that bucket.  

  • John Paul Summers

    Michael, your podcast is inspiring! I want so badly to pursue a solid vision, but I feel that would lead me away from my current job, and I worry about supporting my family. I want to follow the Lord, but feel like I need guidance; In your opinion would it be beneficial to try to get a life coach? I wish I had someone on the other side to help me navigate my vision. If so, how do I go about this? Thanks for what you do! God bless you brother!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Personally, getting a life coach was the best investment I ever made. I recommend. BuidlingChampions.com.

  • neuschaefer

    Thank you for the step by step plan for vision.  One of  my biggest problems  is discerning between MY vision and God’s revelation.  I read today from Oswald Chambers, “Our soul has gotten out of intimate contact with God by leaning on its own religious understanding.  We should get in the habit of continually seeking His counsel on everything, instead of making our own commonsense decisions and then asking Him to bless them.”  May God continue to bless you and your ministry. Simply Stacy http://stacyneus.blogspot.com

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      When you seek after God, then your vision will line up closely with His. Keep chasing after Him!

      • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt


  • http://talesofwork.com/ kimanzi constable

    Another great podcast Michael, I’m happy you decided to do this podcast, there has been so much good content!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Kimanzi. I am enjoying it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jaimiejo07 Jaimie Johnson

    I loved your podcast and I will definitely be sitting down and doing this.  I have to-do lists and I keep trying to be more productive but I can’t seem to find the motivation to accomplish some of the things on my list.  I realize now that I don’t really have a goal or vision to use as a guide.  Hopefully setting out a clear vision for myself will give me the fire to work in the right direction.  Thanks!

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

       Whoa, I almost thought you were someone I knew because your name is very similar to hers. But then I see your name is different.

      I hope that you’ll be able to create a goal and cast a vision that you will chase after.

  • http://robsorbo.com/ Rob Sorbo

    Very good point. I think this is something my company is good at…unfortunately they sometimes completely miss the productivity part!

    I read somewhere (it may have even been here on michaelhyatt.com) about a successful circus that never invited their set designers to their creative meetings. The creative people would dream big, but the set designers would shoot them down; however, when they stopped inviting the set designers, they would make a huge vision then tell the set designers what they needed. Somehow, the set designers were always able to create the “impossible” vision of the next event.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

       Interesting story Rob. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard that one before. Yet I can see how that would happen.

      Sometimes we need to create our vision in a small group in then present it to others.

  • Allen

    trying to download a podcast to my android phone but there is no option to do so when i right click on it. can you give me some direction. thanks

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

       Allen, do you have Google Listen or another podcast app on your phone? If so, searching for it should bring it up. If not, let me know I will help you.

  • http://michaelramm.tumblr.com michaelramm

    Thanks, Michael, for another wonderfully informative podcast. It is amazing how much I am learning from your podcasts and from reading your comments. Keep up the great work.

    While I cannot directly affect the vision of my company (actually a municipality), I can encourage others on the Senior Staff to move to solidify some things that are vision related.

    I can directly affected the vision of the two blogs that I write at, and will begin to really think on these things and hope to bring them forward soon.

    Thanks for all the work that you do.

  • http://www.epicenterlanguages.com.mx Aaron Nelson

    I LOVED this podcast Michael! So easy to grasp and so very inspiring. Before I forget, have you seen this post by Dan Rockwell: http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/2012/02/16/fixing-the-reason-vision-casting-flopps/  

    What I loved: Your application story of helping to pull your division through a crisis point. Inspiring! I find myself and my small business moving through a heavy financial crisis – fresh vision is REQUIRED. Do you have any other stories or examples of small business pulling through similar situations and how casting vision was part of the process? 

    Thank you for your amazing work. I love what you do. :)

  • http://www.epicenterlanguages.com.mx Aaron Nelson

    I thought of a question today: when you went through the process of explaining your vision to your team, you started first with a clear view of where you were currently. (The dark facts.) 

    I was wondering something: we’re in the middle of trying to recast our company’s vision in the middle of hard financial crisis for our business. The problem is that the majority of the crisis has been self induced thanks to us making stupid decisions to get into debt. 

    We are changing those ways, but how do you deal with that when you’re painting the actual picture of how things are to your employees?  Should they know that the company is in trouble because of something the owners (myself) did that was stupid?  The company itself is profitable. The owners are the ones who need the reality painting….

    So that’s the question….would you/should you let your team of leaders know this kind of mistakes, or just that there is x amount of stupid debt that must be dealt with in order to really move forward? 

    Or maybe the vision casting that needs to happen here is more for the owners?  Hope these questions make sense, and thank you for the help!

  • Ted Smith

    Enjoyed the podcast. My question is, “How do you gain your own vision when you are working closely under someone else’s leadership who has no vision?”

  • Prashant Bhatt

    Working in health care industry in Arab world. Found many interesting points in your  blogs. As department manager one struggles when different systems interact as in this part of the world, the organizational financial managers use Visa and Contract-payment issues to subvert and control.

    However, at a department conceptual level, I found many things useful. We tried to incorporate the points in a Technical Review Multidisciplinary committee and it has been useful, though it is work in progress.

    Thanks a lot for posting. Regards

  • http://jornadadeumlider.com Fernando Almeida

    Very good thoughts on your podcast. I fully agree there’s too much focus on productivity and very little on our vision. Even in terms of holding people accountable it should be done with a focus on the vision rather than just productivity. If one focuses too much on productivity we may end up blocking creativity that would allow for new ways to do things in order to reach the vision.

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  • http://christopherbattles.net/ Christopher Battles

    Great information.  The more clear the vision is, the more passion we will have.  
    Thank you Michael.  
    K, bye

  • Ryan Quinn

    new comer to your show, so I’m working my way through the backlog.  My question about vision is more directly geared towards marriage than business.  I’m a newly-ish-wed and can genuinely see some value in creating a vision for my marriage as well as my personal and career lives.  My question is, is this something that I should be doing WITH my wife?  Should I ask her to maybe work on one separately and share?  How would you go about handling that?

    This could be applied to businesses in situations where you’re working with co-leaders.  Is this a group project, or should it be created separately?  If separate, how do you then merge the visions to ensure that they are each given proper attention?

  • http://twitter.com/RCONNOR111 ROBERT CONNOR III

    So true……Have a great day on purpose!

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  • AmericanWriter

    Amazing Michael… you never sell…. you always inspire.

  • Jamie

    Hi there.

    At my work, I am at the bottom of the chain and the people above me do not have a vision, nor the desire to create one. They simply punch the clock and go home. Our department keeps growing and doing well due to the industry (ebooks!), but we are just bobbing around not really going anywhere. I was wondering if you had any advice for those who wish to have a vision but will likely not have a vision from a leader. I don’t want to step outside the authority of my managers, but I feel like out department could be so much more.


    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for your question, Jamie.

      This isn’t uncommon at all. In fact, it’s pretty normal. The good news is that you don’t have to be at the top of the organization to have a compelling vision. If the vision is good enough, you can often enroll your superiors as well as your subordinates.
      Leadership involves takes risks. Sometimes you have to step out a bit to do that.

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  • Kevin

    Mike, You use the term “current reality” in outline #4 above. Are you using the term from Galdratt’s “Theory of Constraints”?

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  • RyanRhoten

    Michael – I just started listening to your Podcast
    which explains the delay in my post versus when you created it.  For me, Podcast # 3 was very timely as I had
    interviews yesterday for what would be an internal promotion.  The position I interviewed for is one that
    calls for developing a vision for a Brand that lacks one today.  While my answers closely aligned with your
    Podcast, I was able to take your advice and apply it to help make my responses
    more robust and thoughtful.  The ironic
    thing is that when I started the podcast I thought I was about to listen to
    Podcast # 2 and almost stopped it to go back. 
    I think someone was watching out for me on my drive to work yesterday
    morning.  Thanks for the thoughtful
    advice and Podcast.       

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  • Marcella Wiinamaki

    WOW that was so me all strategy no vision. Thanks for the insight you had with this topic! Examination, explanation, & even life application–Really spoke to me!

    Greeting from Croatia–

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  • Dan Morrow

    I know I am late to the party, but hopefully someone will be able to help me. With about 10:00 left Michael mentioned a study that talked about how widely broadcasting a vision can give some people a sense of accomplishment that can actually lead to stagnancy. This is especially relevant to something I am writing and I was hoping Michael or someone might be able to direct me to this study (or others like it).

    Thank you. The question you left us with was very helpful and encouraging for me.