Vision statements may sound mystical, but there is nothing uncanny about it. A vision statement is a foundational business document. It is written with intention and describes the impact of your purpose statement.
With all the paperwork that occupies any organization, the vision statement is unique. While it is frequently confused with a mission statement, the vision statement has a different purpose. A mission statement talks about what the company is doing in the present. In contrast, a vision statement looks towards the future, to a time when your business is largely successful.
Because the vision statement is a cornerstone document that will guide the company’s direction for years to come, you may want to consider using collaboration tools and brainstorming techniques to get input from everyone on the team. That way, you will get greater buy-in from the company, and you will gain more insights and ideas.
A vision statement is a document that states the current and future objectives of an organization. The vision statement is intended as a guide to help the organization make decisions that align with its philosophy, values, and declared set of goals. It can be considered a roadmap to where the company wants to be within a specific timeframe. A vision statement is not only used in business; nonprofits and governmental offices also use them to set goals.
That does not mean a vision statement is set in stone. They can (and should) be returned to, reviewed, and revised as necessary. However, any changes should be minimal because a vision statement should have been given a great deal of thought before finalizing it.
A vision statement does not have any particular length. It can be as short as an aspirational sentence or pages long, depending on how much detail you want to provide. Ideally, it will be two or three sentences. However long it is, the vision statement is formally written and used as a reference in company documents to inform decisions and actions in the future.
A vision statement is not a “dream document” that is a collection of the organization’s shared fantasies and then filed away. Like a mission statement, it is a living document referred to as the future of the company. It is designed to lead a company to its next innovation.
Some might think a vision statement is a waste of time, but it fills a vital need for the company. For example, it sets a broader strategic plan for the organization. While it is extremely easy to get caught up in the details of your business’s day-to-day operations, the vision statement is a view of what you want the future to look like.
It is easy to set goals; however, without motivating your team to deliver these goals, you will be hard-pressed to produce them. A motivational vision statement will both motivate existing employees and drive talent to the company. They will want to work at a place with a vision.
In a world of differentiation, a strong vision statement will set you apart. Everybody wants to become profitable, but a company that can set an agenda to achieve that goal will set itself apart and inspire others. Use a vision statement to focus the organization’s efforts on the core competencies it needs to achieve its goals.
While there is no formula or template to create a vision statement, a typical structure for successful ones includes these traits:
- Be Concise. This is not the place to add unnecessary statements. It should be simple, easy to read, and cut to the essentials so it can be set to memory and repeated accurately.
- Be Clear. A good rule of thumb for clarity is to focus on one primary goal, rather than filling the document with a scattering of ideas. One clear objective is also easier to focus on and achieve. If you have multiple departments or product lines, you may want to have a vision statement for each.
- Have a Time Horizon. A time horizon is simply a fixed point in the future when you will achieve and evaluate your vision statement. Define that time, and understand it may change.
- Make it Future-Oriented. Again, the vision statement is not what the company is presently engaged in but rather a future objective where the company plans to be. It should be optimistic because you are creating this future.
- Be Stable. The vision statement is a long-term goal that should, ideally, not be affected by the market or technological changes.
- Be Challenging. That said, you do not want to be timid in setting your goals. Your objective should not be too easy to achieve, but also it should not be so unrealistic as to be discarded.
- Be Abstract. The vision statement should be general enough to capture the organization’s interests and strategic direction. It is the guiding statement of your future.
- Be Inspiring. Live up to the title “vision statement,” and create something that will rally the troops and be desirable as a goal for all involved in the organization.
Create your vision, inspire your team and customers–and thrive.
Take advantage of our free strategy session to jump-start your organization’s vision development. Together, we can grow your brand.