"The last thing we need is a vision."
In 1993, when Lou Gerstner was hired as the new CEO of IBM, the company was in crisis. The mainframe computer business was becoming obsolete, the culture had become disengaged, executives were at odds with each other, and the company was on the verge of bankruptcy.
When asked what his vision for the company was, Gerstner famously said, "The last thing IBM needs right now is a vision." What the company needed was a strategy they could immediately execute. He simplified the organization, streamlined decision-making, and focused the company on it's strength - integrating technology for their customers. Gerstner was credited with saving IBM.
A vision is important. But that is the easy part. People rarely disagree with a vision of a prosperous company. The hard part is deciding how to accomplish the vision. Strategy is about making tough choices and tradeoffs that may not be popular.
IBM didn't need an easy consensus vision, they needed a hard strategy.