Vision is what inspired the business in the first place. It all began with a business need, humanistic need, personal need, and the list goes on. The company was started with a vision to solve a problem. If it was not you then the original founders certainly had some vision for what they wanted to achieve. With many entrepreneurs, the vision is in their head, and for some it is a challenge to get it down in print. If that is you, don’t worry, you are not alone.
Vision describes a future state.
This is not a roadmap, it is the place you wish to arrive without any mention of whether you plan to walk, run, fly or drive. A vision is big and often bold, and describes a place to strive for many years in the future. It does not tell anyone how you plan to get there (strategy) or when (annual operating plans with tactics), it simply describes the place. For example: Southwest Airlines’s vision is “To become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.” Their vision describes where they want to be, not how they wish to get there. It is also simple to understand.
Vision must resonate with your stakeholders.
Stakeholders include your employees, prospective employees, customers, vendors and shareholders. This is your brief opportunity to tell them why they want to partner with you over the next decade or longer.
It is very difficult to boil down your vision into a simple-to-comprehend statement. For example, GE uses an equation and series of elements to convey their message. For other well-respected brands, like Nordstrom, it is very difficult to find their vision statement, even though they are very customer-centric in their approach. Why is this important? Think of Southwest in the example above – you may watch and/or participate in Southwest’s journey and you can evaluate how they are doing along the way. Are they being true to themselves? You as a stakeholder have the opportunity to gauge their success, so can their employees, shareholders and so forth.
Does your vision have flaws?
First, are you able to articulate it? Does it describe a place you want to arrive sometime in the future? Does it motivate and inspire? Can you describe “how” you will get there with your mission and strategy?
If the answer is no or not certain to any of the above, it is time to revisit your vision because without that, the roadmap to where you want to be is going to be blurry.
Next, we will discuss how the vision (where you want to arrive) becomes relatable through the strategy (roadmap for how to get there).