Setting direction for your business
By Jess Chapman
One of the most important roles of the business owner, or senior leader, is setting the direction of the organization. If you don’t know where you’re going, how do you move forward?
A vision statement is a concrete way to understand what your organization is trying to achieve and ground your strategic plan.
Unlike a mission or purpose statement, which says why you exist and what you do, your vision statement describes your goals for the future and the long-term results of your organization’s efforts. It should:
- feel somewhat lofty;
- be future based;
- inspire your stakeholders; and,
- provide parameters to what you consider as opportunities.
With a clear vision statement in place you can then structure your strategic plan to achieve that vision and engage your stakeholders in the inspiring vision of the future you are creating.
So how do you develop a vision statement?
1. Get set up
Firstly, who do you want to be involved and what time frame are you looking at? There are strategic planning frameworks that suggest visions as BHAGS (big, hairy, audacious goals) and set a 25-year time frame. For many of us, 25 years can feel a long way out, so it’s not unusual to pick something in the three to ten year range.
2. Start generating ideas
For a vision, we care about impact. A bakery makes bread, but impact is different. Maybe it is keeping traditions alive or focused on the customers’ enjoyment. Think about the impact of your organization, not simply the product or service.
Now, fast forward. What impact will you have in the future? Don’t be afraid to dream big. You can try building a vision board: put up pictures, quotes, thoughts, and comments on the future and see what emerges. Or try a future thinking exercise. Imagine you are 5 years in the future—what is a day in the organization like? What newspaper article was just written about your success and why? The trick is to get your ideas flowing!
3. Quantify success
Just because we are looking forward doesn’t mean we don’t have definition. Visions need some quantifiable element. How can you quantify your vision? Maybe by size of audience (all businesses in NL for example), or number of units sold. How can you quantify the impact you have defined?
4. Make it memorable
You really want your vision to be 2 sentences or less. If it’s not memorable, it won’t stick. Use the present tense and ditch jargon like ‘maximize shareholder return’. To inspire we use language we can connect to. If the shortened version doesn’t encapsulate every element of the future you discussed, that’s okay, but it should be unique to you, remind you of the future you’re aiming for, and excite you.
5. Keep it alive
There is no point crafting an inspiring vision, only to put it in a drawer and never look at it. The acid test is ‘do you use it?’ If you don’t find yourself spontaneously referring to it, it’s not the right statement. Don’t be afraid to evolve it as your business evolves, and as you see which elements have stuck and which haven’t.
Your vision should be your glowing beacon guiding you forward. Don’t skip spending time on visioning, and don’t be afraid to dream big, and then build your strategy to get there.
We’ve helped many organizations determine their mission, vision, values, and strategic plan. If you’re looking for help with yours, give us a call.
As Principal of ethree Consulting, Jess specializes in helping organizations unlock the power of people to drive exceptional business results.
With a background in HR, organizational performance, learning and development and training in neuroscience; and, over a decade of experience working in different countries, a variety of industries, and with some of the largest organizations in the world, Jess has a unique combination of skills and experience that is hard to beat.
Known for her ability to “read minds”, deliver creative yet practical solutions and “just get it”, working with Jess and ethree is an all-round “phenomenal experience” according to their clients.