“I dream, I test my dreams against my beliefs, I dare to take risks, and I execute my vision to make those dreams come true.” – Walt Disney
In physics, tension is a type of force applied on a solid object such as a cable that imposes a deformation so that particles of the object are further apart than when in a normal state. Tension is often used to maximize the performance of specific objects in various circumstances.
Just like in physics, a company needs to create necessary tension between different elements in order to maximize its performance. Let’s refer to this characteristic as “positive tension”. One of the most interesting “positive tensions” in an organization is the one created between vision and execution. In a startup environment, vision is responsible for laying out the mission and future of an organization and formalizing parts of the strategy to materialize that mission. Complimentary, the execution aspect in a company is responsible for achieving near term specific goals without sacrificing the overall vision.
Like any two positive forces, vision and execution need to be in constant tension and bad things happen when they don’t. Companies without a strong vision to drive them become completely reactive and quickly irrelevant. Quite the contrary, organizations that are only focused on their vision without setting up the infrastructure to execute effectively on it a likely to fail rather quickly.
As a startup CEO, one of your most important jobs is to create the necessary “positive tension” between vision and execution. In my experience, achieving the right level of “positive tension” between vision and execution is a never-ending experiment and one that you should conduct very carefully. If the vision-execution tension is too strong, it can break your organization. However, without it will be very hard to maximize the potential of your team.