Does Your Vision Statement Have What It Takes?
“Is your Vision and Mission statement something that drives every person in your company or just wall paper in your lobby, or a banner on your website?”
If we asked you, or anyone in your company to recite your Vision, Mission and Core Values what would happen? How would everyone do? This is a fair question when it is so important today to be operating from a powerful future instead of mired in day-to-day reactionary tasks.
In our interactions with business owners, we are asked constantly to help them to develop tools that inspire growth, vision and innovation. One major stumbling block is to get people to picture what could be possible for the future, when most are stuck in daily routines and stress. This is not a new challenge for business, but in today’s market it is vitally important to break through if you wish to be relevant.
So what makes for a powerful vision? Perhaps we need to look at our past.
Here is a history lesson.
Please think of who said each of the following statements:
- “Every household will own an automobile.”
- “By the end of the 1960’s we will have put a man on the moon.”
- “Every home will own a personal computer.”
These statements from Ford, Kennedy and Gates are just a few examples of visionary declarations that have changed the way we live today. One thing you need to understand is these visions were spoken when most people would have thought it an impossible dream. These leaders had an incredible skill of inspiring a nation into action in the face of intense criticism.
So this begs the question. In your organization, what is your Apple Computer? What is your vision declaration that will inspire large groups into action? I am sure it is not something as boring as exceeding customer expectations, quality statements or providing shareholder value.
For your company’s vision to have courage and guts, it will require some sweat, some fear, some uncertainty but most importantly a belief that it is possible. We would not expect you to know how to get there; only believe that is can be done if everyone raises their game and motivation.
Here are some proven ideas to get your vision off the wall and into language and action:
- KISS it!
- The best vision statements are simple, clear, one line declarations that inspire everyone.
- Forget the ‘buzz’ words and weak language that does not mean anything.
- Everyone can recite at any time
- The best vision and mission statement, including core values can be recited by anyone in the organization at any time, especially outside of work in public.
- Take the test today, and let us know how everyone does.
- People believe
- If every person in your company would not take a punch in the gut for the vision, start again from scratch; you don’t have it yet.
- The organizational vision is what gets people out of bed rushing to work, not zombies waiting for payday.
- People are inspired
- Dr. Martin Luther King did not say, “I have a dream; I just hope we can get enough people to support us and stop complaining in time for something to happen.”
- If people are not rushing up to you to share what they have contributed, your problem might be bigger than lack of vision.
- Everyone ‘lives’ the words
- People know and understand the importance of actions that are on behalf of the future.
- They have skin in the game and will challenge others who are falling behind.
- Living the vision is not driven by the senior mangers alone. Everyone at any level in the organization owns this.
- Everyone reports what they have accomplished
- Actions, accomplishments, successes and even failures are shared on a regular basis.
- This is expected and part of your culture of winning
- Become a learning organization
- All actions taken, successful or not are recorded and posted on a wall for everyone to see.
- Learning from action becomes engrained in how you operate as a group.
- No excuses
- People may try desperately to dodge accountability here.
- Don’t give in and be relentless in your expectations.
- Picture it
- When communicating with others, if you can’t picture or see what they are saying, stop them and ask them to better articulate.
- Words like ‘try’, ’busy’, ‘more’ or ‘better’ are not acceptable.
- Get into action now
- The downfall of all visions is inaction.
- Please set up clear follow up plans, and set people up to report back to the group at the next meeting.
With one recent client we helped drive their vision by setting up small teams of committed people to drive contribution and change. This group was responsible as change agent and they owned the place. This worked very well for them as people felt included and recognized.
Another client used a booklet that was placed at the workspace of someone every day. At the end of the day that person was to write out how they lived and contributed to the vision for that day. They then passed the book along to someone new. They tripled their business in less than 3 years.
We have many more proven examples that could work for you. Our biggest piece of advice would be to not drive this alone. You will need the help and cooperation of everyone in your company. Getting them on board is your first and hardest task to begin with.