Ambition is Not Vision

While virtually anyone can set out ambitious goals, the ability to pursue a defined vision requires far more insight and discipline. Much of this will draw on business jargon for which I’m not a particularly established source, so this should be supplemented by more authoritative supporting information.

A fairly clear concept to distinguish the concepts is that of a vision statement. An effective vision statement is intended to provide the focus which enables prioritization and the decision of not only what to do but what not to do. This in turn should help resolve core competencies which provide defensible and differentiated proposed values.

Ambition without vision is lacking that focus and seems to manifest as goals masquerading as strategies. This surfaces as statements such as “we need to dominate the market” or “we need increased engagement” and can even extend to include plans that are contingent upon such things happening but are lacking the essential element of why such things would happen.

Ambition without vision is not only rudderless but encourages significant waste. Most prominently overly wide ambitions tend to thinly stretch resources and efforts, but additionally much of that breadth is likely to dip into some combination of commodities and externally available value. The latter lends itself to fashioning inferior doppelgangers of established solutions and the former may invite excessive costs; any of which exposes susceptibility to flat world competitors delivering something deemed better or less expensive or both.

This notion seems to be well supported by the notion that most successful business were built on top of doing one thing particularly well, and none of this is likely to provide any additional insight over any conventional business wisdom that I’ve heard, but it seems to be repeated more often than it is applied (which is likely true of most things).

While looking up the Steve Jobs quote on simplicity I also came across these which are appropriate:

[…] it comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much. We’re always thinking about new markets we could enter, but it’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important. (1)

People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things. (2)

In quotes: Apple’s steve jobs - BBC news [online]. 8 March 2022. Available from:
Quote by steve jobs: “People think focus means saying yes to the thin... [online]. 12 March 2022. Available from: