The old adage says “if you don’t know where you are going, how will you know when you get there?” You need a vision. If you have any doubt, watch any episode of Shark Tank where the “sharks” will ask, “tell me your vision,” and “now that you have your vision, what’s next, how will you keep it alive?”
In a recent episode, entrepreneur Max Gunawan shared his vision behind his lighting fixture Lumio, and got an offer from every single shark. Granted, his product is cool, but what could be cooler than your own family?
And, the good news is, the same tools and techniques you might use at work to create a vision can apply to your own family.
The family vision statement is the family creating a path it chooses to follow. It is a template for purpose that can be used to initiate, evaluate and refine a family’s life experience together and individually.
For the Witkovsky’s, the family is
• Our safe haven where we can share our hopes and dreams, and trust that they will never be minimized or belittled, where we can fail, but are never made to feel like failures.
• Our wellspring where love is nurtured and nurtures in return; our sustenance in times of both joy and sorrow, and where we can heal from pain in an atmosphere of tenderness and understanding.
• Our support system where we are comfortable asking for and receiving help; where we mobilize our collective assets (knowledge and insights, talents and love), to steadfastly aid each other in meeting life’s challenges.
How did we come to this, and how can your family get started? A parallel to workplace processes can help.
1. The big, offsite retreat.
To plan together, families need to be together, away from dirty dishes, electronics, repair projects and other distractions. Thanksgiving or the holidays are a good time when extended family is already together and perhaps everyone can come a day early for a conversation, or maybe a weekend getaway to someplace nearby, for a comfortable setting.
2. The “pre-retreat survey.”
Knowing and managing participant’s expectations ahead of time can help inform the agenda and engage everyone ahead of time.
Your pre-retreat survey can range from logistical (best day, time, location) to aspirational. Imagine a newspaper headline that says “Witkovsky’s Named Family of the Decade.” What does the article say about our family and how we operate? It can also ask for suggested topics of discussion, or intergenerational team building games to bring everyone together.
3. The Family Values Survey
What is a family values survey? It’s a way to dig into your ‘family culture.’This may be better done as a “session” during the family meeting, or you might send it out ahead of time and have results compiled to present at your Family Vision Meeting.
Do you value sports or arts? How do people feel about asking for help or independence vs. interdependence? What about education and lifelong learning? While all of these might be admirable interests or goals, the Family Values Survey helps to see priorities for your family. (Hint…there’s a ready to use Family Values Survey on page 64 of The Grandest Love).
Of course this does require someone to take ownership to get the ball rolling. It could be the grandparent, or perhaps an adult child who has facilitated a similar process in the workplace. Having a designated person take ownership will ensure it gets done.
The family vision discussion has a place from the get go, from the announcement that the first grandchild is on the way. We may assume we are all on the same page, but without talking out loud, misunderstandings can arise.
Grandma and Grandpa might expect daily calls, weekly supper, but working parents may find that hard to balance. We may talk about the “big ones,” such as how to raise interfaith families, or vegetarian vs. meat eater, but what about supporting a grandchild to study abroad, or responding to family illness?
What organizational development activities have you done at work that can apply at home? What steps can you take today to create a vision for your family?