Vivid Visions Trump Institutional Inertia

“Where there is no vision, the people perish.”  
Proverbs 29:18  

Ever wonder how some organizations are so good at making the impossible happen? Converting some wild idea into a viable product or service? And then from viable to wild “overnight” success?  

I was talking with an entrepreneur from the heavy civil construction industry – an amazing story of going from one bulldozer and himself to 400+ pieces of equipment and nearly 500 employees. In his words, with a charming, patriotic and somewhat emotional crack in his voice, he said, “BJ, I am the American dream.” I asked him his secret, and he said, “Hard work and good people.”  

Cliché?  Maybe.  

Wise. Absolutely!  

The entire story? Not a chance.

What I think he was missing in his humble response was “vision” and “leadership”. He didn’t want to take credit. Undoubtedly, hard work and good people deserve some of the credit, but those people wouldn’t exist if he and his leadership team didn’t paint the vision of being part of something great.

This week, we are headed to Disney World. We haven’t been as a family, so Natalie and I are excited to take the kids and experience the magic of Disney through their eyes for the first time. The magic of Disney. And while I am excited for the kids, I’m excited for me. Walt Disney is the consummate American entrepreneurial story. One man’s vision brought to life. From a mouse on a piece of paper to an animated cartoon character.  Cartoon character to world icon representing magic, happiness, fairytales and family fun. A vivid vision brought to life by an entire team of professionals to brainstorm, plan, design, create and build park after park. 

But first, they had to see it to believe it.

Believe in him. Believe in themselves. Believe in the possibility.

Do you think he had doubters? Naysayers? Haters? Not to mention the practicality of financial viability!? There are many stories about financial troubles while building Disneyland, so if the banks didn’t believe in him, how did his team? My guess is that it had to do with storytelling. Walt Disney was a master of making the unbelievable come to life through words and pictures. In historic video documentaries and biographies, you can see Walt as a master storyteller. He makes you escape the reality of what is and takes you to a place that is yet to be.  

Stories take you to a place that doesn’t yet exist. From music and movies to books and bedtime tales, stories are a powerful tool. They can inspire, or they can divide. They can build up, or they can tear down. They can forgive an old enemy, or they can create a new one. Stories can teach us lessons of love and lessons of history. And yes, stories can even help us build our teams and implement our projects. Stories help us inspire emotion in people, and people who believe they can accomplish something often do.

Ideas are easy. Implementation is everything. Many public projects get stuck because of institutional inertia – bureaucracy, politics, etc. What they require is an internal champion, an agency entrepreneur as we refer to them, to help get the ball rolling. We partner with agency entrepreneurs to take the vision, articulate the story, and then take the ball up the hill. We help agencies accomplish the impossible because, after all, Walt Disney is right, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”  

BJ Kraemer, President