Most people can easily recognise that setting goals, like creating a vision statement, is best done by using a broad brush, rather than plunging straight into the detail.

Bill Gates created the Microsoft empire with a simple vision – “A Computer on every desk in every home”.  He didn’t spell it out in a detailed business plan, because he could never have predicted how things would go.

Steve Jobs at Apple was intent on creating quality devices that everybody could use easily.  He didn’t stop  to calculate how he was going to get them manufactured and assembled with suppliers all over the world.

Google talked about “Organising the World’s information” and how they would make it a profitable business.  Their huge advertising revenue was years down the line and had not been part of their initial plans.

What connects all of these achievements?

                They are all based on thinking long-term and big-picture.

Detail has a place in business – in fact it is essential for some stages or activities in your business. Detail is fine for showing you how to go about achieving your vision or goals, but not for creating them in the first place.

Michael Heseltine, the UK Politician, famously created his career goals literally on the back of an envelope, writing the following when he was at Oxford University:

                1950’s – millionaire

                1960’s – Member of Parliament

                1970’s – Minister

                1980’s – Member of the Cabinet

                1990’s – Downing Street

He missed the last goal by a whisker, but achieved all of the others and had a glittering business and political career.

One of the factors that drove his success is that he kept his goals simple (although stunningly ambitious) and mapped out 5 decades of his life in brilliant “long-term, big-picture” thinking.

That’s a great lesson for every business and every individual.