What is your company’s vision? Is it clearly articulated and communicated to the whole organization? Is it precise and concise or is it obtuse, drawn out and paragraphs long? Do your employees know what the vision is? Is it easy to communicate and to transfer? Can employees see how they contribute to the organization’s vision? Do the organization’s leaders model the vision in all their actions, decisions and behaviors? Would your customers agree that your vision statement matches their perception of the organization?
Why should you care about the answer to these questions?
You should care because a concise, clearly articulated, consistently modeled and communicated vision is critical to the success of your organization. Vision gets everyone in the organization aligned around a common theme and every decision and action taken within the organization is measured against its contribution to this vision.
This is an extremely powerful differentiator in our globalized, commoditized and “flat” world. Author, philosopher and professor Tom Morris said it this way; “If we don’t know who we are or where we’re going, how can we possibly know exactly what we should do today, and tomorrow? “ and then he added “From our most fundamental forms of thinking flow our attitudes, our emotions, our decisions, and our actions. With a powerful ethical vision directing all our other thoughts, we don’t need long lists of rules to guide us.“
From a customer’s point of view, if this vision statement is solving a problem that they need solved, they will see this vision focus and alignment and know that they can depend on you to deliver your products and services. Organizations that have this focused vision are typically differentiated in the marketplace and have engaged and productive employees (and, according to Jim Collins in Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies (Harper Business Essentials), outperformed the general stock market by a factor of 12). See this article for more details.
So, what is a vision statement?
A vision statement is defined as a picture of the future which creates an ideal and unique image of what the organization will become and/or the impact it will make. It must address a problem, be presented passionately and constantly and always modeled by the leaders of the organization.
It is best to keep the vision of your organization concise but powerful and portable so that it can be easily remembered, modeled, communicated and transferred. The following vision statements are excellent examples of this;
- 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
- Kaufman and Broad – To build homes that meet people’s dreams
- Cirque Du Soleil – To invoke the imagination, provoke the senses, and evoke the emotions of people around the world
Note that vision statements are not just for organizations.
Individuals can have vision statements as well. These personal vision statements follow the same rules as for an organization and can have the same powerful, focusing effect. For example, “Make Poverty History” is Bono’s vision statement (lead singer from the UK based band U2). Bono is famous for his music but he is now equally famous for the work he is doing for rallying world leaders and corporations to take actions to end poverty.
Another example could be Barack Obama’s vision statement for his first presidential campaign….”Change”. Whether you are an Obama fan or not, it is easy to see that this vision statement is concise, powerful and portable and it played a huge role in getting him elected!
So, what is your organization’s vision statement….what is your personal vision statement?
In future posts I will discuss Mission and Values and how all of these things tie together to create an extremely focused and powerful organization.
“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Solomon