Does your business vision statement create a compelling image of the future for your business and/or industry? Do the people in your organization use your business vision as a guidepost for decision making, from strategic decisions through to operational decisions? Does your vision statement capture the idealism or "standard of excellence" that reflect the aspirations of the management team, inspiring thoughts of how the world could be if the company was highly successful?
If not, it may be time to choose a new business vision. From our decision making model, this decision sits at the top of the decision network hierarchy, creating the opportunity to influence and guide decisions throughout the business or company. An effective business vision statement can have a huge influence on the allocation of resources and be an important tool in driving change.
These terms are often used interchangeably and can create confusion. To get the benefits of making these decisions we suggest the following distinction:
A business vision statement describes what the company aspires to be in the future (usually beyond 3 years), or how the world could be, in part, due to the company's efforts. The vision has the end result in mind and can provide the inspiration and reason for fulfilling its mission.
A business mission statement defines the fundamental purpose for the organization and the values it wants to reflect into the world. It represents the current state, and what the company will do, or contribute to, in fulfilling the aspirations of the vision.
The following criteria are some of the most common success factors used in evaluating a business vision during the decision making process.
This set of criteria should lead to a good business vision, but only if you have a robust set of options to choose from.
There are a number of approaches to identify or generate options that can be considered in making this choice. In most cases, this will start from a thoughtful look at why the business exists.
Here are two techniques that can be effective:
Let's assume the top three criteria are value created, realistic aspirations, and futuristic, as described above. Begin by writing a statement that would assess well for each criterion. Using an energy company as an example, here are three possible statements:
Using these three statements you can mix, match, and modify key phrases to create a number of options.
Once you have a number of statements, similar to the previous technique, you can mix, match and modify to create a number of alternatives to use in choosing you business mission statement.
Do not underestimate the impact this selection can have on your strategic decision making. For a new or small firm, a business vision can be critical to developing an organized plan.
When communicated effectively a business vision statement will:
A truly great vision will come to life in the everyday actions and behavior of the business team. It becomes part of the organization's culture.
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