In this series of startup guide, we are going to look at 4 Golden Ways to Create The Best Vision Statement. Knowing why you’re doing what you’re doing (your mission), where you’re trying to go (your vision) and how you’re going to go about it (your values) are greatest foundations that hold an organization together.
Strategic planning is a key function of an organization’s management that helps in setting priorities, allocating resources and ensuring everybody is working towards common goals and objectives.
For strategic planning to be effective, there are two important tools that are needed; Vision and Mission statements. These two serve as a guide for creating objectives and goals in your organization, and provides a road map to be followed by everyone involved in your organization.
Your strategies and goals may change with respect to market needs, but your mission, vision and values always remain intact. You may modify them a little bit over time, but their intent stays unchanged, as you make critical business decisions that impact your future.
Unfortunately, despite the importance of vision and mission statements, many organizations do not have them. In other cases, the two are lumped together creating confusion and making it hard to set objectives and goals.
Let’s explore the vision statement further.
What is Vision Statement
A vision statement is the foundation block of a strategic plan. Ideally, it outlines summarization of the goals and objectives that a business would wish to finally and ultimately achieve. Additionally, it outlines the purpose to the existence of such organization.
A vision statement is used to describe the future state of an organization; what the organization hoped to become in the future. It is simply a long-term goal and provides direction for the organization.
A vision statement is a framework for the future. It states where your company wants to be, and how it wishes to see the people it serves once the mission is fully accomplished.
It depicts the greater purpose and the legacy your company hopes to leave, and the everyday efforts proclaimed in the mission statement will help your company build that.
It communicates the purpose of the organization to the employees and other stakeholders and provides them with inspiration to achieve that purpose.
A good vision statement should be short, simple and specific to a business, leaving nothing open to interpretation.
A mission statement describes the present state of an organization and its primary goals or objectives. It provides a detailed information about what the organization does, how it does it, and who does it do it for.
A mission statement outlines the primary goals that will help an organization achieve the future it desires. It is a brief description of a company’s fundamental purpose and answers the question “why does our business exist”.
A mission statement is used by a company to explain, in simple and concise terms, its purpose(s) for being. The statement is generally short, either a single sentence or a short paragraph.
Difference Between Mission and Vision Statement
It’s easiest to think of the two corporate statements this way;
Mission Statement: Today and every day
Vision Statement: Someday when the mission is accomplished.
A vision statement focuses on the future state of an organization, on what the organization what to become after achieving its mission.
Why do you need Vision statement
Organizations need to know where they are heading and what they are trying to accomplish. Without a proper vision statement, you lack a clear definition of your objectives.
- A clear vision acts as a unifying force. It has a very positive impact on overall organizational effectiveness. It focuses and aligns efforts so everybody is working towards the same goals
- A solid vision statement is a guide for employee action and decision making. It provides guidance employees need to make the right decisions
- A vision statement is motivating and inspiring. A company with a compelling and well-articulated vision is attractive to men and women who want to make a difference with their lives.
- A good vision statement keeps you going when the going gets tough. During tough times, the vision can pull the staff together, encourage their creativity, bring higher levels of commitment and bring tenacity.
- A good vision statement will help make a company not totally dependent on you and a few individuals.
4 Ideal Guidelines to Creating Perfect Vision Statement
Essentially, in order to write a good vision statement, there are four ley guidelines you need to follow. They include the following;
Guideline 1: It has to be short and unambiquos
The key to good vision statements lies in the length. There is no universally restricted length, but you don’t want to write in excess of two sentences. If you are not in a position to define your vision in one or two sentences, you have not clarified your true objectives.
You will always want to expand your mission to go further into details, but your actual vision statement must be short. Suppose you are in the health industry and want to create a vision statement, a good one can read this way “Creating a world where healthcare is affordable and accessible to everyone”
By analyzing the statement above, we can clearly see that the words create an impact. Choice of words is very important to create meaning and emotion.
You need to pick words that describe your vision clearly and have the impact you are looking for. Get to the point and make it clear what you are trying to achieve with your vision statement. Look at the example below.
Good Vision: We’ll create a world of customer-led content to enhance information sharing across different communities.
Bad Vision: Help people live a healthier life with more healthcare options to choose from. These are affordable solutions and people use them to feel better. We’ll also provide affordable services so that people with different backgrounds can enjoy our services.
Ideally, pick words that indicate direction and avoid generic words. Additionally, avoid being too specific.
Guideline 2: It has to be ambitious yet simple
Your vision statement should not only be short but also aim for simplicity. Technical jargons or reading between the lines are not qualities of a good vision statement. A vision statement is not meant to be deciphered.
See a simple example below;
Good Vision: We want a world free of office paper waste.
Bad Vision: We implement the waste protocol to meet Standards by WRAP and clear the world of office waste.
Unlike the mission statement, the vision statement is the place for your dreams. You should be focused on your vision and not embedded on realistic timelines of achieving the goals.
Ideally, your vision statement doesn’t need to be finished within a set of years. However, it should be a vision your company is constantly thriving towards.
Guideline 3: It must be specific to the business
Under the third guideline for writing a vision statement, you need to be more detailed in terms of your specific business. Your vision statement should always be relatable to your business and its values.
You can never copy another company’s vision or use a blanket solution –This is because your vision statement is about your business and its ideals.
A good vision statement should be the foundation of what your business is about and the values you instil in your employees.
Let’s take an example of an accounting software company looking forward to creating a vision statement.
Here is how to craft one;
Good Vision: Providing people with opportunities to worry less about work and spend more time achieving goals.
Bad Vision: Ensure people are able to live happier.
The reason the second vision is bad is that it doesn’t define the values and objectives your accounting software can provide. In short, we can say it’s too ambiguous and unclear.
It lacks a connection between the ideal world and your business. We would all need to live happier, but you need to clarify why your business for stands and believes in.
Guideline 4: It must align with business values
The final guideline in creating the best vision stamen lies in aligning it with business values. Example; you can’t talk about wanting to be known for offering excellent service if you don’t place customer service at the core of your business.
You must practice what you preach in order to deliver your goals efficiently. A core aim of any vision statement is to inspire and motivate employees and other stakeholders. Therefore, you must ensure that you talk about the values you want them to exhibit in their work.
Ways to Create a Vision Statement that Inspires
When looking forward to creating a vision statement, we advise you first take some time to answer the following key questions
- What does your business look like when it is finished?
- What is your business out to achieve?
- What does success look like to you?
- What are the purpose of your business and the reason it exists?
- When your business succeeds, what would be its accomplishments?
After analyzing hundreds of vision statement, we can settle down to four key aspects that form the cornerstone of every great vision statement. These four aspects are; The Output, the Twist, The Quantification and The Human Connection.
Let’s analyze them in details;
Step 1: Define what you want as an output
Begin by being very clear on what your business is all about. Exercise caution to keep a keen focus on the output rather than the input. Here is an example; a bakery makes a cake. But the outcome is consumers enjoying that bread.
Step 2: Define any specific twist your business brings to the above outcome
Let’s use the bakery example. Why will customers enjoy our bread MORE that cakes from other places? Is it because we use baking traditions that have been passed from one generation to the other for centuries? Whatever your unique selling point is, ensure it shines throughout your vision statement.
Step 3: Apply a high-level quantification approach
A common problem associated with many vision statements is ironically, being too visionary. Let’s use the bakery example once more; we might want to refine our target audience to ‘ever customer who walks into our store’- no harm with that. However, we might want to make it more quantifiable, by targeting ‘every customer within walking distance to our store’
Step 4: Add a relateable human touch
The last step to creating a vision statement is adding a real-life aspect so that people can create mental impressions of your organization and associate it with your vision statement.
Creating a vision statement for already existing businesses
Not all businesses out that that were constituted on the foundations of vision and mission statements. In case you have an operational business out there and you lack a both vision and mission statement, all is not lost.
There are five key things you can evaluate for your business and come up with these vital statements. Additionally, if after reading this guide you feel you need to redefine your statements, you are most welcome do so. Ensure you get these four key issues right;
Define your organizations existence
It is very important to ensure your vision statement is business-specific. To create a perfect vision statement, you need to get to the heart of what your business does. Why are you operating and where do you want to go?
You first need to have a mission statement and use it to craft a vision statement. The mission statement defines the purpose of your business and the strategies you want to use and can be very helpful in helping you understand where you are going.
Outline the core values of your business
You need your vision statement to reflect the ideals of your business. To evaluate the values of your business, think on a broad term on the operational characteristics and qualities you seek to uphold in your performance.
Think about the qualitative goals you strive to achieve in carrying out all the activities of your business. Examples of good business values include; integrity, sustainability, honesty and excellence. Not until you have crafted the values your business stands for will you be able to come up with a vision statement.
Think where you want to be in future
A vision statement is not about here and now. It is a step away from the present and gaze into the future. It is not about where your business will be in the next five years. It is about the bigger picture or ideal future for you and your customers.
Visualize the future of your business by mentally scripting what you would like to be said or shown about the company when you are not there. What would be the thinks you would be appreciated for bringing in your business?
Visualization is a powerful way to identify ambitions and focus on the efforts needed to be put in place to achieve a long-term goal. Narrow your statement down to just two achievements or actions. Be as visionary as possible and think outside the box. Dare to look into the future in a way no one else would.
Sharing your vision with the organization
Once you have your vision statement ready or you have a few different versions ready, you should aim to gather some feedback before you can settle on one. Share them with your friends, family and co-workers and listen to their input and reviews.
Get feedback and go back to the drawing board to hone your vision statement. Since a vision statement is not an idea you have in your head, but a statement you can share, then do so with others; share it.
In essence, your vision statement will start manifesting itself in every action and step your business takes. Ensure each action you take and decisions you make are in line with your vision, else you risk getting out of reality.
You also want to share your vision with employees, customers and stakeholders and ensure they use the statement as guidance in making decisions and transactions relating to your business.
A vision statement needs to be visible and accessible all the time. With time, your vision might need to be reviewed. It may pass a time you have achieved some of your vision and the statement doesn’t seem inspirational anymore.
You don’t want your vision to lose that spark- it’s time to review it. Additionally, your company may change or evolve over the years and the same should be reflected in your vision statement. Essentially, you need to ensure people are continuously inspired by your vision and there is no form of disconnection.
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