The value of a clear and compelling vision

Big hairy audacious goals, 50-100 year visions statements, mission statements, starting with why — there are as many ways to talk about vision and purpose as there are consultants. But still, with so many folks talking about it there must be something valuable and enduring in this idea of an overarching vision. What is it? Isn’t this some kind of self-congratulatory, navel gazing, feel-good, Kumbaya exercise?

visionstatementHaving a clearly articulated, well communicated vision statement for your organization isn’t just some consultanty, feel-good activity. In fact, it’s proven to be correlated with higher growth and profits. Here’s why:

1. A vision makes everyone feel like they belong.

Belonging to a tribe or a group has deep roots in the human psyche. When we enlist our team in a project that is “bigger than we are” we tap into that deep human need to be part of something, and we can generate motivation and engagement that’s off the chart.

2. A powerful vision creates a reason to sacrifice.

Sometimes after a long day, one of your team members may sit at his desk looking longingly at a picture of his family. Why is he putting in those hours? Why is he busting his butt for this company? If the answer is, “To make the owner wealthy,” well, that’s not very compelling. If instead the answer is that his work may change the world – then maybe it’s worth it. Even is your organization isn’t curing cancer or ushering in world peace, your work is serving your customers, and improving their lives and work. But the point is, your team members need to understand the difference they are making in the world, and a vision can help.

3. A clear and compelling vision acts like a lighthouse or landmark.

It’s impossible for you to envision all the situations that your organization and team members will end up in, but having a well articulated vision can help them to know what to do — know how to act, what decisions to make — no matter where they end up. The vision helps align the team’s goals and actions – multiplying their effectiveness.

4. An honest and compelling vision can stand in your stead and guide the decisions of your team.

Because that vision can provide guidance in uncertain situations, it helps to create independence. The vision can help everyone in the organization to have confidence that they are moving in the right direction, or that their decisions are more likely to be your decisions. If it’s moving the organization closer to living out the vision, then they can safely make that decision knowing that it’s the one you would have made.

5. A personal vision can keep you going.

Running a business isn’t always a walk in the park; more often it’s like walking across hot coals (thrilling, but potentially hazardous). What keeps you going? Why aren’t you riding off into the sunset? What do you still need to accomplish? What will bring you esteem from your family and community?

So whether it’s Built to Last helping you to create a 100 vision and a BHAG, or Start with Why helping you to find your purpose, it’s important that you do that work to find the core of the mission, the way that your organization is making a difference. Beyond that, communicate it clearly and repeatedly.

Does your company have a vision statement? If so, how has it helped your team? 







Comments

  1. Hi Brad,
    I think vision can help even solopreneurs or very small businesses because
    it helps you focus on what opportunities you do want to pursue and what
    opportunities you don’t. Since entrepreneurs are always learning new things,
    there is a danger of drifting away in pursuit of every new opportunity you see.
    A vision keeps you grounded and on track while still flexible enough to
    experiment with how that vision can be realized.

  2. Hi Brad,
    I think vision can help even solopreneurs or very small businesses because
    it helps you focus on what opportunities you do want to pursue and what
    opportunities you don’t. Since entrepreneurs are always learning new things,
    there is a danger of drifting away in pursuit of every new opportunity you see.
    A vision keeps you grounded and on track while still flexible enough to
    experiment with how that vision can be realized.

  3. Brad:

    Great article as it succinctly reinforces the reasoning behind the vision. I think you would agree but you can take the vision a step further by tying the activities of the individual back to how it will help achieve the vision (as part of a mission.) Through creation of the association of activity and vision you not only guide the individual in their decision making but you can also reinforce their individual worth and contribution to the organization.

    Great stuff! Keep it coming.

  4. Hi Brad,
    Great article, I completely agree with you about the importance of being explicit about what your company vision is. When launching a startup, many changes can happen to the business model over time, but having a strong vision can keep priorities straight when choosing what course changes to follow.
    For example, at Vantage Local, our vision is to help small businesses have access to more efficient online advertising. How we accomplish that has evolved, but the core vision remains intact. You can read more about it at our blog: http://www.vantagelocal.com/blog

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