Success Factors

A Great(er) Vision - Creating a Common Ground

Due to a number of accidents involving employees around the world, a Swedish company operating in the heavy equipment sector, decided to consistently improve their safety policy and culture. It was vital to them that all employees become aware of hazards and potential risks, and that they have the knowledge and ambition to always perform their jobs safely.

All this to prevent, and ultimately eliminate, all kinds of injuries in order to reach the vision of an injury-free, illness-free and healthy workplace. To emphasize the importance, the “safety first” initiative started among top management, but soon became a priority for the entire organization. They started to celebrate World Safety Day to promote and teach safety internationally. They added more automation in hazardous environments, to avoid having personnel in dangerous places and situations. They made sure that safety requirements also included the safety of their clients and partners. The CEO started all meetings with a safety demonstration. Their shared vision had really rooted in the entire organization to make sure they lived up to the common vision of zero injuries. By creating a vision of a safer workplace they were able to get all employees working toward a safer future.

Simplify your vision to attract everyone from partners, future employees, journalists and other stakeholders.

Being forward-looking and enlisting others in a shared view of the future, is an attribute that often distinguishes successful projects from non-successful ones. Thus, visionary leaders who promote a vision of the future that benefits their employees tend to be the most successful. A future-focused, shared vision usually leads to a stronger team cohesion, stronger group identity, and ultimately better performance. This vision needs to be a driving force of the entire team of employees and partners. The vision should compliment the actor-specific objectives. When it comes to collaboration in projects for more sustainable future, it is helpful to envision the end-users fulfilling sustainability goals, as a mantra for all actors to use throughout the project.

Most of the respondents in our study mentioned the importance of a common long-term vision with a “noble aim”, including e.g. “empathy”, “solidarity”, or “human-centric”. A vision for the “greater good”. Even competitors, with no prior experience cooperating with each other, came together to create a new common greater vision for a more sustainable future. Our respondents believed that getting team members to ‘walk the extra mile’ required continued emphasis on their common vision.

Quotes from case interviews:

"This is a unique partnership which sees landowners coming together to unite efforts in making London greener. Strategic support from the Mayor of London is key to ensuring the partnership aligns with wider London initiatives and is key to the project’s long-term success."
Emily Woodason, Arup (Wild West End)

"The project aim is to create a sustainable town as a legacy – We want to get beyond a ‘smart city’. Instead, we are human-centric in every thought and process."
Paul Copping, Fawley Waterside (Fawley Waterside – a smart city)

"It is very transparent in-between the competing teams. We all just want to make the product. We all want to be a part of this, to revolutionize the transportation industry, to create a system that is more sustainable."
Adam Lidström, KTH - The Royal Institute of Technology (Hyperloop)

"It is a lot of work, but very much worth it. We’re doing good and it gives so much back”.
Susanne Axelsson Heldring, Botkyrkabyggen (Qvinna)

"You need to understand the business values - what will give us the best value of the technology? Not only commercial - also societal. It might be fun to test new tech, but it has to create value in the end."
Jesper Hedlund, Örebroporten Fastigheter AB (Digital Twin City and AI.MEE)

Top insights from interviews - How to achieve a vision that will keep actors focused and on the right track, throughout the entire project:

  • Have an earth and human centric perspective, i.e. envision the effect on the planet and what end-users will do, feel or gain from your work.
  • Let the vision nurture the importance of innovation, to keep developing and committing to the final goal.
  • The vision must be long-term - aiming for a far future and based on future trends - and communicative, i.e. possible to use in all kinds of media and circumstances.
  • Create a mantra that all project actors and other important stakeholders can use, a saying that will be the backbone in all communication about the project.
  • Simplify your vision to attract everyone from partners, future employees, journalists and other stakeholders.
  • Resources: Successful projects have great leaders that are ‘people persons’ and in most cases people that are inspirational and thereby able to communicate the vision to inspire all stakeholders. The project actors, partners and all other stakeholders are the carriers of the vision, which should therefore be thoroughly anchored through dialogue.
  • Invest in great copywriting that can put the vision in an inspiring context.
  • Identify milestones as tactical actions in addition to the vision.

If you are interested in reading more about The Great(er) Vision, we recommend the following cases: Drive me, Fawley Waterside, Wild West End, H22 - The making of a smarter city, Qvinna, Digital Twin City and AI.MEE, and Digitalizing the farming industry.