30
Apr
10

What is a Vision Statement?


vision of peace statue

Originally uploaded by Dan Anderson

Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “I have a dream,” and what followed was a vision that changed a nation. That famous speech is a dramatic example of the power that can be generated by a person who communicates a compelling vision of the future.

Management author Tom Peters identified a clear vision of the desired future state of the organization as an essential component of high performance. If a strategic plan is the “blueprint” for an organization’s work, then the vision is the “artist’s rendering” of the achievement of that plan. It is a description in words that conjures up a similar picture for each member of the company of the destination of the company’s work together. There is one universal rule of planning: You will never be greater than the vision that guides you. No Olympic athlete ever got to the Olympics by mistake; a compelling vision of his or her stellar performance inevitably guides all the sweat and tears for many years. The vision statement should require the organization’s members to stretch their expectations, aspirations, and performance. Without that powerful, attractive, valuable vision, why bother?

How a Vision is Used

John Bryson, the author of Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organizations, states that typically, a vision is “more important as a guide to implementing strategy than it is to formulating it.” This is because the development of strategy is driven by what you are trying to accomplish, your organization’s purposes. A mission statement answers the questions: Why does our organization exist? What business are we in? What values will guide us? A vision, however, is more encompassing. It answers the question, “What will success look like?” It is the pursuit of this image of success that really motivates people to work together.

A vision statement should be realistic and credible, well articulated and easily understood, appropriate, ambitious, and responsive to change. It should orient the company’s energies and serve as a guide to action. It should be consistent with the organization’s values. In short, a vision should challenge and inspire the company to achieve its mission.  Reprinted: Alliance for Management

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