The most important activity for any leader is to cast a vision for their organization! This vivid picture of what the future will look like when the organization has achieved its ultimate purpose must be so compelling that your staff will bet their careers on your organization and your customers will be inspired to do business with you.
The effectiveness of your vision statement can make or break your organization. It can be the biggest factor driving differentiation for your organization in the marketplace or it can reduce you to just another commodity, slugging it out in the trenches for the lowest priced sale.
I have observed a number of organizations with powerful vision statements over the last few years. One of the most impactful to my local community has been the Calgary Dream Centre. The Dream Centre is an organization that focuses on helping men break out of cycles of poverty and addiction.
They started out 10 years ago with not much more than their vision of: “Restoring Dignity, Discovering Destiny, Realizing Dreams.” Today, the Dream Centre in Calgary owns a 6 story building where they house 125 men and graduate 100 men through their recovery program each year. This program has a 77% success rate which is almost unheard of in recovery programs. They have recently expanded into 47 doors outside their main facility in their ongoing endeavors to integrate the men back into the community after they graduate from the program.
I have written about Vision Statements in the past but I only addressed the importance of the vision statement and never defined a process to craft the statement itself. So, how does this work? How do you build this vivid picture of the future?
What follows are six vision building guidelines that will help guide you through the vision building process:
- Keep it brief and keep it simple. If it is longer than a sentence or if it is complicated, no one will remember it or relate to it.
- Make it powerful! If it is generic or full of platitudes it will mean nothing. It must connect with people on an emotional level.
- It is not complete. Because the vision statement is brief, it will not be complete. You cannot describe your precise vision in three or four words. However, you can describe a powerful, high level concept that resonates with people. Consider Barack Obama’s vision statement that got him elected – “Change.”
- Your vision must be solving a problem that people need solved. If the vision is not solving a problem, it will not connect with people and it will not be effective. Ask yourself, “What would go undone if your organization ceased to exist?” State the problem first and then define the vision to solve it.
- Your vision must be relevant. It must pass the “why” test. Why is this problem you identified and your solution for the problem relevant?
- It will take a long time to define your vision statement. It is not easy to distill a vivid and compelling picture of the future into a short and powerful statement that emotionally connects with people.
In addition to the six guidelines above, take some time to watch two videos from Andy Stanley entitled Making Vision Stick. Although these videos were put together for leaders of church based organizations, the principles apply to any organization and the material taught is superb.
Once you have finished the videos, read through the vision statement examples below and begin crafting your simple but powerful vision statement.
Examples of Vision statements:
- Bono – Make poverty history
- Google – Organize the world’s information
- Kellogg – To make quality products for a healthier world
- Microsoft – To put a computer on every desk and in every home
- Coca-Cola – To refresh the world
- Cirque Du Soleil – To invoke the imagination, provoke the senses, and evoke the emotions of people around the world
- Calgary Dream Centre – Restoring Dignity, Discovering Destiny, Realizing Dreams.
What is your concise and powerful vision statement and what problem is it solving?
“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Solomon
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