Most companies spend a lot of time creating a vision statement that is hung on the wall and does little to enhance company performance, both now and in the future. Why do we get this outcome? Why bother?
Why do we get this outcome?
We get this outcome because most vision statements are boring, rational, hackneyed and mean very little to the people who are charged with making the vision a reality. Examples are:
“To be the most successful provider of …….to the Asian region providing customers with global reach.”
“We will be the preferred global provider of……..to our customers using our distinctive culture to create value for them and prosperity for our people.”
“We will be the first choice brand for…….”
So what do these statements mean to me? Nothing! They do not communicate what’s in it for me (WIIFM). They do not let me visualise what I need to do day-by-day to help move the company closer to achieving its vision. They do not capture my imagination or my emotions. They do not motivate me to become passionate about the cause. A cause that is much bigger than me. A cause, that I would be proud to commit to and be part of. These statements talk about the what, not the why. For those of you who have not seen Simon Sinek’s TED ‘Golden Circle’ video, you and your team should watch it before attempting to create or refine your vision.
Examples of more powerful vision statements are:
“To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. (*If you have a body, you are an athlete” – Nike
“To give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.” – Facebook
“Helping people around the world eat and live better.” – Kraft Foods
“To put joy in kids’ hearts and a smile on parents’ faces.” – ToysRUs
These vision statements are short and simple. They are aspirational. They are easy to remember. They use emotive language that helps people envision the aspiration. They are the light at the top of the hill.
I have no doubt that crafting a powerful and robust vision that stands the test of time is possibly one of the most difficult leadership tasks. It takes time (sometimes years), creative thinking and uses words that create meaning for the reader.
There are several reasons why creating a powerful vision is worth the time, money and effort. The following reasons (not exhaustive) provide some guide as to why leaders should bother crafting a powerful and robust vision, It…:
- Provides a picture of what the company will look like, be like and feel like once the job has been done. Have you ever tried building a 1,000+piece puzzle without having the picture? Well, this is what many companies are asking their people to do
- Determines the boundaries of the ‘sandpit’ that we play in
- Helps people become emotionally invested in the cause
- Provides unity of Purpose and unity of Action
- Provides a platform to leverage organisational capabilities and differentiate
- Mobilises the scarce resources of the business, allocates & deploys them more effectively
- Guides effort and gains commitment
- Provides focus
- Improves productivity by reducing distractions and time wasting activities
10. Facilitates collective learning
11. Is the point of reference for all strategic and business planning
12. Links operations to strategy and business plans
13. Forces an external focus
14. Provided we ‘walk the talk’, It is one of the levers that can:
- Increases staff tenure or reduce staff turnover;
- Is a platform for staff empowerment;
- Facilitates clear communications;
- Improves the level of staff engagement and satisfaction;
- Unlocks potential team synergies;
- Unlocks potential cross functional or divisional synergies;
- Generates greater consistency of effort, service and quality;
- Reduces the ratio of supervisors to staff.
From my personal experience, I have seen the difference in company performance between those that have a meaningless picture on the wall and those companies that ‘live’ the vision. The companies that are able to institutionalise a powerful vision as part of the ‘DNA’ of the business unleash a ‘tiger by the tail’ and significantly and consistently outperform the rest.
One can readily see that, if done properly, having a powerful vision is well worth the investment and will pay back many times. The secret is to ask the right questions, keep it short and simple, open thinking, unlock your creative juices and use emotive words. Once done, test the power of your vision with staff, customers and other stakeholders. Have you unlocked the power of your vision?