Skip to Content

The quest for vision

May 20, 2013 / 1 min read

Paul Saginaw, co-founder of the Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Zingerman’s Deli (home of quite possibly the best corned-beef sandwich in the state), recently spoke as part of an Executive-to-Executive speaker series for nonprofit organizations at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, Michigan. He focused on the importance of vision—a topic close to my own heart—and told the following story.

Ten years after they started their business, Zingerman’s Deli was flourishing. People were flocking to the deli, and life was good. Yet one day, Saginaw pulled co-founder Ari Weinzweig out of the deli to ask him a question: “What’s Zingerman’s going to look like in 10 years?” Weinzweig was caught off guard: “Why do we have to discuss this right now? I have work to do!” “But this is our work,” explained Saginaw. “We have a responsibility to look down the road 10 years from now as leaders and describe the future of our organization.”

I love this story because it’s an example of a best practice in action. All too often, businesses get so caught up in their day-to-day operations that they don’t focus appropriately on their future vision and strategies. But visioning is so important to an organization. If you don’t know where you want to be, how will you know how to get there (or if and when you’ve gotten there)?

Sometimes you just have to stop where you are—no matter what you’re doing—and think, “What’s next?” And just as important, “Is this the right course of action for my organization?” Because it’s not just about having these strategies—it’s about having and adhering to the right ones.

How about you? Do you take the time to plan for your organization’s future? How far into the future is your plan?

Related Thinking

Child and adult painting a mural on a wall.
June 21, 2024

A centennial milestone: Reflecting with Kresge Foundation’s Amy Robinson

7 min read
Professional photo of Jim Proppe.
April 10, 2024

A grand experiment, 100 years in the making

Article 3 min read
Doctor sitting at a desk using a computer
December 28, 2023

Finding meaning in the “why:” Delta Dental’s plan for an enduring organization

Article 6 min read