What is a Vision Statement?
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A vision statement is a declaration of a company's goals for the mid-term or long-term future. Ranging from one line to several paragraphs, a vision statement identifies what the company would like to achieve or accomplish. A good vision statement provides the inspiration for the daily operations of a business and molds its strategic decisions.
Vision statement vs. mission statement
A vision statement should not to be confused with a mission statement. The terms are often used interchangeably, but mission statements are present-based statements designed to convey a sense of why the company exists to both members of the company and the external community. Vision statements are future-based and are meant to inspire and give direction to the employees of the company, not anyone outside of the company. A mission statement answers the question "Why does my business exist?" while a vision statement answers the question "Where do I see my business going?"
Aspirational in nature, vision statements lay out the most important primary goals for a company. Not to be confused with business plans, vision statements generally don't outline a plan to achieve those goals. But by outlining the key objectives for a company, they enable the company's employees to develop business strategies to achieve said goals. With a single unifying vision statement, employees are all on the same page and can be more productive.
Vision statements are dynamic and can change over time. As a company grows, its objectives and goals may change. Vision statements need to be revised as needed to reflect the change as goals are met, but they should be written in a way to last for at least a few years.
Vision statement examples
Here are a few examples of corporate vision statements:
Macy's: "Our vision is to operate Macy's and Bloomingdale's as dynamic national brands while focusing on the customer offering in each store location."
Microsoft: "A personal computer in every home running Microsoft software."
Toyota: "To become the most successful and respected lift truck company in the U.S."
Coca-Cola: Profit: "Maximizing return to share owners while being mindful of our overall responsibilities. People: Being a great place to work where people are inspired to be the best they can be. Portfolio: Bringing to the world a portfolio of beverage brands that anticipate and satisfy people; desires and needs. Partners: Nurturing a winning network of partners and building mutual loyalty. Planet: Being a responsible global citizen that makes a difference."
Avon: "To be the company that best understands and satisfies the product, service and self-fulfillment needs of women - globally."
How to write a vision statement
When writing a vision statement, a good place to start is the mission statement. Where could the elements outlined in the mission statement take the company in the future? Dream big and make a list. Don't worry about practicality for now – what initially looks impossible could be achieved with the right team and technologies. Brainstorm with a group of employees to visualize where you may see yourselves in the mid- and long-term future.
A simple formula to follow is "In X years, [company] will [achievement]." Sometimes, "… by [strategies]" is tacked on to the end of the formula, enabling companies to figure out how they can do what they want to do. But this often requires research and analysis, and can fall under the umbrella of a business plan.
Now that you have a list of goals, start narrowing them down. Be true to yourself and your company, and let your mission statement guide the way. Don't be afraid to use an emotional touch – think about how the company leaders would feel when the goal is achieved.
Vision statements should provide a sense of aspiration and stretch the imagination. A good vision statement will help inform direction and set priorities while challenging employees to grow. It's important that the vision statement be compelling not just to the high-level execs of your company, but also to the junior-level employees.
Here are five tips to keep in mind.
- When describing goals, project five to ten years in the future.
- Dream big and focus on success.
- Use the present tense.
- Infuse your vision statement with passion and emotion.
- Paint a graphic mental picture of the business you want.
After the vision statement is complete and finalized, your employees will have a clear idea of your vision for the company. It's up to you to nurture and support that vision each day and to inspire your employees to do the same. With your support and dedication, you can empower your employees to fulfill the goals outlined in your vision statement.