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There’s an Old Proverb that says “A vision without a plan is just a dream. A plan without a vision is just drudgery. But a vision with a plan can change the world.”

Having a vision requires imagination. The art of simply letting your mind day dream about possibilities and ideas is an exciting process. The hope that some of the things we dream about might actually come true helps fuel our desire to keep pushing through the obstacles of daily life.   

A common day dream of young children in the U.S. is to open their very own lemonade stand. A parent might respond to this vision or request with questions like Ok, so what’s your plan?”, Are you doing it to make money or are you doing it for a special cause?”, What sort of supplies do you think you’ll need?”, How are you going to advertise?”, etc. If that child has a vision but no plan, it will just remain a dream and the neighborhood won’t get to enjoy that glass of handcrafted lemonade after all. 

Now imagine if that child was simply told by a parent that he had to spend his Saturday setting up a lemonade stand in order to learn more about salesmanship and entrepreneurship.  That wasn’t the child’s vision for how he planned to spend his Saturday or something he’s even interested in doing. The parent’s plan becomes drudgery for the child. 

A child with a vision and a plan to run a lemonade stand can learn how to create a quality product, learn how to market it, and might even make a profit. This could potentially evolve into a baked goods and lemonade stand and continue into other entrepreneurial or community building endeavors as an adult. More importantly, that child learns that if he has a dream or a vision, having a plan of action, a strategy, will help him get closer to achieving that goal. 

A strategy is like a roadmap that allows an individual, or organization, to get to its desired destination in the most efficient way possible. On any road trip it’s important to plan intentional stops along the way for gas and food in order to keep pressing forward and keep morale high. Unfortunately, the lack of intentionality to strategize and plan for the future closes businesses around the U.S. on a daily basis. 

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that approximately 20% of new businesses fail during the first two years of being open, 45% during the first five years, and 65% during the first 10 years. Only 25% of new businesses make it to 15 years or more.  

According to Management Study Guide, perhaps one of the most important reasons why firms do not engage in strategic management is that they fear the unknown”’ in addition to the lack of consensus and differing ideas as to what a good strategy ought to be.” 

Sometimes people can devise these strategies effectively on their own, but most require a third party to assist with creating the roadmap. It was the parent’s expertise and perspective, after all, that ultimately helped bring the child’s vision to light. In the end, a dream is just a dream without a plan.


Cindy Johnson, Research Specialist & Strategy Consultant @TWG