Crafting A Vision
The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.
— Helen Keller
Mission and vision statements are no longer in fashion. They were overused and misapplied in the past, so their current utility is next-to-nil.
Effectively created and utilized, mission and vision statements have a variety of benefits:
- They guide employees in decision-making.
- They inspire employees to become more productive through common goals.
- They clearly identify the company and its culture.
- They clarify the organization’s strategy.
- They quickly convey the purpose of an organization to a customer or client.
- They serve as a public relations tool.
In addition, creating clear mission and vision statements is an excellent way your leadership can define the purpose and major goals of your business. Why does your business exist? What do you want to succeed in? These questions and more can be answered when you and your leadership team sit down to compose your vision and mission statements.
Make a statement
Mission and vision statements serve different purposes. The mission statement expresses the organization’s purpose, what an organization does, and why a customer should choose your organization over a competitor’s.
The vision statement expresses the destination of an organization—that is, its future as imagined by the founder or leadership team.
The following questions can help you compose your mission statement:
- What do we do?
- How do we do it differently than others?
- Who is our customer?
- Do we have an area of expertise?
- What is our company’s preeminent passion?
Here are some famous examples of mission statements:
FORD: “We are a global family with a proud heritage passionately committed to providing personal mobility for people around the world.”
GOOGLE: “To make the world’s information universally accessible and useful.”
DISNEY: “We create happiness by providing the finest in entertainment to people of all ages, everywhere.”
SONY: “To experience the joy of advancing and applying technology for the benefit of the public."
After reading these examples, are you able to understand what these companies do and how they do it differently? Do you get a feel for what makes an incredible mission statement?
The following questions can help you compose your vision statement:
- What does our company intend to become?
- What are we going to be remembered for?
- Does this statement motivate us as leaders? Does it motivate our employees?
Here are some famous examples of vision statements:
Amazon: “Our vision is to be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”
Apple (from an interview with CEO Tim Cook): “We believe that we are on the face of the earth to make great products and that’s not changing. We are constantly focusing on innovating. We believe in the simple not the complex. We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products that we make, and participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution. We believe in saying no to thousands of projects, so that we can really focus on the few that are truly important and meaningful to us. We believe in deep collaboration and cross-pollination of our groups, which allow us to innovate in a way that others cannot. And frankly, we don’t settle for anything less than excellence in every group in the company, and we have the self-honesty to admit when we’re wrong and the courage to change. And I think regardless of who is in what job those values are so embedded in this company that Apple will do extremely well.”
General Electric (GE): “To become the most competitive enterprise in the world by being number one or number two in every business in which we compete.”
Pepsi: “PepsiCo’s responsibility is to continually improve all aspects of the world in which we operate—environment, social, economic—creating a better tomorrow than today. Our vision is put into action through programs and a focus on environmental stewardship, activities to benefit society, and a commitment to build shareholder value by making PepsiCo a truly sustainable company.”
Save the Children: “Our vision is a world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development and participation.”
As you can see from the examples provided, a vision statement isn’t about a specific project or a short-term goal; it is an over-arching ambition that inspires with its grandeur and directs with its specificity.
As you create a vision statement for your business, consider how the potential of your business could be fully achieved. Where is your business headed? What do you want to accomplish? Your vision should encourage you and energize you to work hard for a dream.
As you begin crafting your mission and vision statements, you will quickly realize the process contains a significant amount of flexibility. To keep yourself from getting off track, follow the best practices listed below:
- Write the statements as succinctly as possible. Use the minimum number of words necessary to convey your message.
- Keep them generic enough so you can continue to grow, but specific enough to direct.
- Check to make sure they are understandable to someone who doesn’t know anything about your company.
- Before working on your statements, have each member of the leadership team write a “rough draft” of what they believe to be your mission and vision. Use the best parts of their drafts to craft the final version.
- If possible, let the founder(s) lead. The founder is the one who initially created the business, so they should best understand its DNA.
Crafting your mission and vision statements should be enjoyable and entertaining. View this process as an opportunity for your business to better understand its identity and create a blueprint for success.
1. Write your mission statement.
2. Write your vision statement.