Let’s debunk the notion that a vision statement is a bunch of baloney. Like many others — I used to feel that these statements were just an exercise in futility. But over the course of time I’ve seen that I was sorely mistaken. Vision matters.
Considering vision can be a defining moment for an organization, and a vision statement can serve as a powerful guide as it moves forward in the world. If a clear vision doesn’t exist, it should be the first order of business.
GPS for your business
Vision should never be a throw away for a developing business — as it can help direct strategy, pricing, advertising and eventually the talent you are able to recruit. Where a mission statement defines what you do as an organization, a vision statement embodies what you’d like to be and where you would like to go, as an organization. It is future-oriented and crafted to motivate. The statement is strengthened by the actions and words of the organization. It also can be the impetus for a value-based message to your customer base, driving business and relationships.
As explained by Jenifer Ross, owner of the W@tercooler, a coworking space located in Tarrytown, New York, “Our vision is like a road map that we can refer back to as we grow and develop our coworking community”. As such, their vision embodies where they wish to go as an organization. Here it is:
- “Striving to be a catalyst for communication, idea exchange, collaboration and personal/business growth by being a HUB for it’s members, the community it serves and the coworking movement as a whole. W@tercooler will attract, support and cultivate a creative and active community of individuals, entrepreneurs, and small businesses that “work together independently” in the collective and generous spirit of coworking.”
Lost in the sauce of the everyday
Most businesses begin with some sort of vision, but rarely re-visit it. Often it is simply never documented — but getting back in touch with vision can be a great exercise. If you haven’t discussed or even mentioned your organizational vision recently, it’s time to do so. This process can clarify action and direct behavior.
If you find your business without a vision, establish one that helps your business focus and connect with your customers. Keep the strengths of your organization in clear sight, expressing the passion and heart of the business. Try the following exercise: Think of 3 concepts or words that you would like your customers to use to describe your company. For example: Modern. Cutting-Edge. Service Driven.
Helping your vision develop “staying power” requires reinforcing the concept through words and visual reminders during the course of your day-to-day operations. Be sure to link back to company vision as much as possible with your employees when discussing performance or customer dilemmas. Spot check your company’s vision “IQ” by bringing up vision at your next meeting. Ask employees to describe your organizational vision and what it means to them.
If you hear crickets – you’ll know there is some work to do.
Dr. Marla Gottschalk is a Workplace Psychologist located in East Lansing, Michigan. Connect with her on Twitter and Linkedin.