Wednesday, October 3, 2012

How to Write an Inspiring Vision Statement

What is a Vision Statement? A “vision” is simply a picture of the future once an organization has achieved its goals and made a meaningful difference in the lives of those it touches.    

Corporate vision statements are typically uninspiring and ineffective.  Executives are often confused as to the purpose of the vision statement, as well as how it will be used. Many companies end up following a standard and predictable vision format as follows:

Our vision is to be the world's best company at (fill in category you compete in) in the minds of our shareholders, consumers and customers, creating sustainable advantage within  (fill in the benefit of using your product)  and helping people everywhere.

These statements lack creativity, direction and can’t hope to inspire anyone.

Companies should take a lesson from some of our country’s great historical leaders if they wish to inspire. Here are some good vision examples:

1.  Vision of a Future State

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.  - Martin Luther King Jr. August 28, 1963

2.  Vision of an audacious goal

“I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon
and returning him safely to the earth.”  - 
John F Kennedy,  May 25, 1961

3.  Vision of products or services changing the world

“A computer on every desktop and in every home” - Microsoft’s early vision

“A computer in the hands of everyday people” - Apple Computer’s early vision

One day, 30% of all retail transactions in the US will be online.  People will buy from the company with the best service and the best selection, will be that online store.  - Zappos

These statements were inspiring at the time they were spoken and highly inspiring to the organization. They paint a brilliant picture of a new world. And best of all – the results they accomplished were significant. 

The elements of a good company vision statement are as follows:

  1. Inspiring picture of a world transformed.   
  2. Focused on the external, rather than internal change.
  3. Personal statement by a single leader - not written by a committee
  4. Short concise statement
  5. Specific timing when this will be realized
  6. Not prescriptive – Should not offer direction regarding how to achieve 

Visions drive results because they inspire people.  If you lead an organization, it is worth the creative effort building and communicating a strong vision.

1 comment:

Jim said...

By the year 2000 there will be six Hondas in every two car garage. This is the vision statement that resonsates most for me.