As we've launched dozens of projects -- businesses, organizations, products, services, churches, schools, and websites -- we've learned a few things about what to do and what not to do. One of the most important things to consider when casting the vision for something new: timing. It's common sense that it takes people a while to comprehend vision for a new direction or a new offering, but there is an additional factor beyond how long it takes for people to get on board. You also have to consider the seasons of the organization and audience.
Some years ago I was brought on as the head technologist for a new social networking venture that was going to connect a Facebook-like site with wearable electronics that would tell a person when their friends were thinking about them.
The concept was good. The technology was developed and tested. The angel round of investors had already anted up. But the project failed because of a critical misjudgement of season: the executive and financial side planned to make up the gap in capital funding over the Christmas holiday, but marketing didn't start until November.
While it's fine for established products and stores to make money with a big late-season Xmas sale or push, launching something new during that time is a horrible idea because of how noisy and full of messages the market is. An established brand doesn't have to cast vision in order to sell. They can assume the market more of less believes in them and can be motivated by a poke or a better price.
On the other hand, a newcomer has to cast vision before it can sell. People have to come to believe in you, know who you are, and have an idea of where you could take them. That requires at least a dozen touches. Trying to introduce yourself and cast vision too close to when you need to make the sale will leave the market feeling like your vision is ill-paced and ill-planned and that you're pushy by nature.
When I was church planting in NYC, our team was very aware of the seasonal rhythm of the city. At first our team would push all year long to get things done, but only certain months saw things happen. After some especially painful push-then-flop initiatives, we realized that we'd get farther if we learned the natural flow: recruit people to the new vision in the late Winter and early Spring. Disciple them like mad to live out the vision in the late Spring and early Summer. Give people the summer to expand and translate what they've learned into informal relationships. Harvest the results in the Fall and plan for next year in the Winter.
For the first time ever, we're going to try offering a on-line workshop series this Fall to get people ready to do vision work for 2014 this Winter and Spring. Since vision casting is a people skill, it's always a good idea to freshen up on a regular basis. Our workshop will help people do just that using our refresh process based on the vision practices of Jesus.
What have your experiences been on the seasons for vision casting? Is there a particular time that is the most effective?