Are vision statements a waste of time? Here is the simple truth
“If vision statements didn’t exist, nothing would change!”
Vision statements are meant to inspire, enable change, and guide behaviour. But they can be so generic, so bland, and so vague – that they mean nothing and achieve nothing.
Vision statements can be INSANELY POWERFUL!
The Microsoft Secret Sauce
Do you think Microsoft would be where it is today if Bill Gates hadn’t articulated his vision.
A microcomputer on every desk and in every home running Microsoft software.
1980’s Microsoft vision
Wind back 50 years…
The 70’s was a time when typewriters ruled, when the “Space Invaders” arcade game was as close you came to modern day video games, when the Rubik’s Cube was a top selling toy, when cars had wind down windows, and the Walkman, a portable cassette player, was the iPod before the iPod.
At the beginning of the 1970s there were essentially two types of computers.
There were room-sized mainframes, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars; and there also were smaller, cheaper, mass-produced minicomputers, costing tens of thousands of dollars, that were built by a handful of companies, such as Digital Equipment Corporation and Hewlett-Packard, for scientific laboratories and businesses.
Still, most people had no direct contact with either type of computer, and the machines were viewed as impersonal giant brains that were threatening their jobs.
The idea that anyone would have their own computer was generally regarded as far-fetched.
Yet, Bill Gates dreamt up a world with a computer in every home (running Microsoft software).
The intent was bold.
The ambition was clear.
This drove the company forward. It didn’t take long before Microsoft became the dominant provider of software to the early PC business.
Dave Jaworski, a Microsoft former executive, gave us an insider look into Microsoft in the early day with his book ‘Microsoft Secrets’:
“The power of a shared vision cannot be emphasized enough. I believe this truly differentiated Microsoft from most of our competitors…”
“…We knew where we were going. We all knew the vision.
And Bill ensured the vision, and the ways in which we would advance it were kept in front of us all. We would even be tested on the vision and other product strategies at our national sales meetings. It was not an accident that we all knew the Microsoft Vision.”
MIcrosoft former executive, ‘Microsoft Secrets’ author
So, YES, a vision can be tremendously powerful to guide your people and your business moving towards your definition of success and what you want your business to look like.
A vision statement has the ability to inspire and motivate your team. It is there to create a long-term strategy for where the company is going; and, it aligns everyone around the company’s direction.
To empower every retail investor in the world to make the best decisions possible.
Simply Wall St
What can a Vision Statement do for your business?
Inspire: President Kennedy “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 Earth.” On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first human to step on the moon.
Differentiate: Tesla’s vision, “To acceleratethe world’s transition to sustainable energy,” stakes out unique market niches in transportation and clean energy.
Paint the future: as we’ve seen with Microsoft “a computer on every desk and in every home.”
Guide behaviour: “The Ritz-Carlton is a place where the genuine care and comfort of our guests is our highest mission.” Employees can spend up to $2,000 per incident to solve customer problems without supervisory permission.
Rally the troops: With competitors’ based statements like Nike in the 60’s: “Crush Adidas”
To create a better everyday life for the many people.
A fool-proof guide to craft a powerful vision
If you’re looking to rally your team, having your top people collaborate on a meaningful vision statement is a great start.
An outsider who has expertise in this area is also invaluable here. Someone who has a little distance from what you do every day can be a big help when capturing your vision.
Imagine what the world will look like.
Picture your business: Get specific
o What type of offices/manufacturing plant will you occupy? Will you be moving into new premises? Will you open offices in other locations?
o How many people will work for the business?
What markets would you have entered?
What impact will have you had on your:
What new products/services will you sell?
Can you get there?
Why does your organisation exist?
How do you do things differently, better or more efficiently?
What should or shouldn’t you do to achieve our objective?
We are successful if we…
Time to write your vision statement, circulate it, get feedback, amend and publish.
A world where tourism drives positive change for people and wildlife.
5 Tips to Write a Vision that Works
Short: The best are so short and to the point, they can be printed on the back of a business card. Any required clarifying information can be added to the supporting mission statement.
Unique: It’s easy to write generic statements that could apply to any business in the same industry. Great vision statements will make your company shine.
Real: Your team needs to believe that it can be achieved (or at least parts of it). People are often demotivated by visions that are too far from the present.
Present tense: It is written in the present, not future tense. Describe what you will feel, hear, think, say and do as if you had reached our vision now.
Agile: Although visions should not change regularly, they need to be reexamined periodically as your company achieves goals and as competitors, regulation, and technological breakthroughs cause priorities to shift.
Empowering the world to design.
So, You’ve Got Your Vision Statement. Now What?
A vision statement isn’t merely words to slap on a coffee mug or on the wall of your reception area. It should guide decision-making on every level– so it needs to be communicated non-stop.
Repeat, repeat, repeat! Make it part of your daily communications – written and verbal. Start your meetings with your vision, this will ensure your meeting stays on track and on course.
The vision statement is the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ you’re doing business. Defining the vision for your company is only the start to building an agile and enduring business strategy.
There are two more steps to truly make a vision statement work and build a strong foundation for your business strategy:
- Your Mission Statement (How you’re going to achieve your vision) and
- Your values (Who you are as a company)
And then it is about making it part of your daily working life as your compass – guiding everything you do in business, how you behave, what is important to you.
Done right, vision statements are powerful assets you weave into the fabric of your company.
They will unify an entire organization’s efforts and be the signpost that continually focuses everyone’s efforts on the things that truly matter.
The key to great vision statements is clarity.
It doesn’t matter how large or small your business is, every business will benefit from a kickass vision statement.