Lecture 1. Strategic Planning Course
My name is David Parrish. I'm going to speak about Strategic Planning, especially for creative businesses and cultural enterprises. 

Vision and Success

Strategic Vision and a clear definition of Business Success are vital elements of strategic planning for all creative businesses and cultural enterprises.

A Vision sets out the aspirations for the future of a creative business or cultural enterprise. This Vision (or ‘Strategic Vision’) is the ‘dream’ of the future, a picture painted in words, which is intended to inspire people by appealing to the heart as well as the head.

“Start with the end in mind”, says Steven R Covey in his bestselling book ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’.

One of the leader’s main functions is to inspire people towards a vision. This is ‘Inspirational Leadership’.

A Strategic Vision must be a Shared Vision, embraced by everyone in the business or organisation - not only the leader, the senior management team and key staff.

“A Vision says something that clarifies the direction in which an organisation needs to move.”
– John P Kotter. Harvard Business Review.

Successful creative businesses need a combination of creative talent and strategic business management– what I call ‘T-Shirts’ and ‘Suits’.

Sometimes, one individual has both of these elements in good measure, but more often than not, the harmony of creativity and business is formed by two people, or a larger team.

So, there must be a shared vision for the enterprise, even if the partners involved are very different characters with different skills.

Matters of risk, growth, financial reward and lifestyle are all issues about which partners might have different views. If these are not in harmony, each person may have a valid, but different, business strategy in mind as their road map to different destinations.

So the shared vision is in many ways the starting point. If people are working hard together but with different goals in mind, conflict – or at least stalemate – is likely to occur.

Jennifer Harris, writing in Management Today, points out that different skills can combine in a complementary way but different attitudes cannot. I agree.

Frederick Henry Royce met Charles Stewart Rolls in Manchester in 1904. Royce was the engineer and Rolls the businessman. They had very different talents but their Vision was the same. Their partnership formed the world-famous company Rolls-Royce.

Having a clear Vision of the future, and then starting with that end in mind, is exactly what successful creative entrepreneurs do.


Everyone wants to be ‘successful’ but there are many different definitions of ‘Success’. Success means different things to different people, so simply agreeing together that you want the business to be ‘successful’ is not clear enough. Working towards different definitions of success will inevitably bring problems. That definition of success needs to be clearly defined and agreed.

Define Success in your own terms – not according to what other people think, want or expect.

When I am advising creative businesses I ask them to define Success for themselves in specific terms. I not only ask them – I demand it. Because if they don’t know where they are going, I cannot help them to get there. This definition of Success makes the Vision more specific.

Financial success is an important dimension for most enterprises but it’s not the only factor. Creative entrepreneurs tell me they want rewarding work, the recognition of peers in their industry, the ability to choose interesting projects, autonomy, collaborations or a healthy work/life balance. These and other ingredients are combined in different amounts in each unique recipe for success.

Business growth

Be clear about what you want to grow. Grow your business in the right way. Grow the right things. Small enterprises can generate large profits and have a big social impact. Size isn’t everything.

The process of clarifying the organisation’s Vision, and definition of Success, is a crucial starting point for any business strategy or business plan. It is also useful in so far as it explores what is at the heart of the organisation, its Mission and its Values.

“Mission and Philosophy is the key starting point in business. A business is not defined by its name, statutes, or articles of incorporation. It is defined by the business mission. Only a clear definition of the mission and purpose of the organisation makes possible clear and realistic business objectives.”
– Peter Drucker. (see also Peter Drucker’s Theory of the Business.)

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