This guide will provide you with advice on how to create a compelling vision for your business and how to implement it.
What is a vision?
The starting point for any business is a clear vision. Vision has a variety of definitions, all of which include a mental image, a future orientation, and aspects of direction or goal.
Vision provides guidance to an organisation by articulating what it wishes to attain. It serves as a signpost pointing the way for everybody who needs to understand what the organisation is and where it intends to go.
In addition, vision not only describes an organisation's direction or goal, but also the means of accomplishing it. It guides the work of the organisation, and it guides people's behavior by providing a picture of the future for which people are willing to work.
Your business vision should answer these important questions:
- Who is involved?
- What do they plan to accomplish?
- Why are they doing this?
Vision therefore does more than provide a picture of a desired future; it encourages people to work, to strive for its attainment. Former General Electric CEO Jack Welch said it best: “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.”
What a vision is not
As important as it is to know what vision is, it is also important to know what vision is not. It’s not a prophecy, it’s not factual, it’s not true or false, it’s not static and it does not limit action. It should also not blind leaders to other possibilities, and it must not allow for over attachment to particular beliefs.
Vision or mission?
Vision statements and mission statements may appear to be similar in nature, but there is a difference. A mission statement is more concerned with the overall aim of the business.
It’s a statement of the company’s reason for being, often including a pledge to deliver a superior product or service to customers on a consistent basis. From this perspective, a mission statement is about maintaining a certain quality or attribute.
The vision statement, by contrast, is about what the company hopes to become, and not what it is already. As an example, a vision statement may acknowledge that the company meets industry standards in customer service, but set goals for taking customer service to a higher level within a specified timeframe.
The five attributes of a vision
A vision statement has the following characteristics:
- It attracts commitment and energises people
- It creates meaning in workers' lives
- It establishes a standard of excellence
- It bridges the present to the future
- It transcends the status quo
From statement to action
A vision is about having a clear understanding of where you are going which is absolutely vital in business. But how do you turn a vision into a powerful living business driver instead of it simply being a plaque on the wall?
The good news is that it’s easier to be passionate about the future if you can visualise where you want to go and how you are going to get there.
The next step is to take action so that you can achieve the desired results and goals. Action involves working out how to get from where you are now to where you want to be – in other words, how to achieve your vision. This will require you to create an action plan that documents how you will achieve it.
It’s a good idea to create a three-month plan that outlines in detail everything you intend to do. By focusing on results-orientated tasks and strategies you can create a blueprint for your long-term business success. This will not only give you a clearer picture in your mind, but it will also give you milestones to work for and focus on.
Make sure you do all the research and outline all the key areas that have to be addressed. In this way, you can link your action plan back to your vision and tick off the milestones you achieve as you go along.
Remember that planning for your success is as important as achieving success – by planning, you will know exactly how you got there. You will, in effect, be able to etach how your idea turns into reality.
Top companies with clear vision statements
Here are some examples of visions articulated by some of the world’s leading companies:
Our vision is to be earth's most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.
Our vision serves as the framework for our Roadmap and guides every aspect of our business by describing what we need to accomplish in order to continue achieving sustainable, quality growth.
- People: Be a great place to work where people are inspired to be the best they can be.
- Portfolio: Bring to the world a portfolio of quality beverage brands that anticipate and satisfy people's desires and needs.
- Partners: Nurture a winning network of customers and suppliers, together we create mutual, enduring value.
- Planet: Be a responsible citizen that makes a difference by helping build and support sustainable communities.
- Profit: Maximise long-term return to shareowners while being mindful of our overall responsibilities.
- Productivity: Be a highly effective, lean and fast-moving organization.
Helping people around the world eat and live better.
A personal computer in every home running Microsoft software.
The Walt Disney Corporation
To make people happy.
Worldwide leader in retail.