About the Author
“If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is a compromise.” – Robert Fritz
In the corporate sphere, a company vision statement serves the same purpose as a guiding light. In this written declaration, leadership explains what the company does, how the company does it, and why in the present moment. The statement reveals where the company is headed and what its founders and leaders hope to accomplish in the future, as well as the company values and purpose(s) for stakeholders and investors. With a business vision statement in place, leaders can set up goals and aims in the form of a mission statement to map out near-term paths for achieving their vision.
Clearly, this work is about setting a solid foundation for the company's future, yet many small to midsize firms don’t make the necessary efforts. As a result, they wind up chasing short-term goals that don’t necessarily cohere in a singular vision for the future. The benefits of establishing a business vision statement are impressive, beginning in the first year and continuing thereafter. In this article, we take a look at the benefits that start accumulating right away, in year one.
Because a vision statement clearly states what, how, and why behind a company’s decisions, it serves to align all efforts toward the same answers. When every executive, middle manager, and employee understands and buys in to the vision, not only does it unify them, but it also defines their highest purpose for working together.
The vision statement then serves as a test for all strategies and initiatives under consideration. Leaders must ask whether what they are considering is consistent with the vision statement. This question becomes the basis for consulting with and relying upon one another – and in that process, greater group cohesion develops.
Just as a presidential candidate can only get elected by inspiring the populace with a clear and positive vision for the future under his or her leadership, a business leader needs that same vision to inspire a workforce. The statement itself must be inspiring and motivating, but this is only the beginning. From the top of the leadership structure on down, conversations should distill the vision down through each business function, department, and role. Every team and individual should understand the smaller wins along the way to achieving and maintaining the stated vision. To that end, the vision statement should be published and communicated through multiple channels, including the company print materials, intranet, and social media platforms. Employees should be reminded of it often, and leaders should observe how doing so through different channels affects employee energy and engagement.
Is your business traditional with a hierarchical leadership, or does it have a flatter, modern leadership structure? Is internal training essential to the development of new leaders, or should the organization look for leaders with a proven track record in the industry, or elsewhere? The answers to these questions ultimately flow from the vision. This is true, in part, because the vision guides the growth strategy, which may include various branches or multiple locations (in which case a hierarchical structure would likely serve the company best) or one central location (in which case a horizontal leadership structure would likely be more effective).
Company branding should be aligned with the company vision, and the tangible elements of the brand should reflect the culture captured in the business vision statement. Branding elements include logos, color palettes, themes in marketing materials, personality as articulated by spokespeople and endorsers, and customer service messages. When a brand is consistent, communications across channels with customers and shareholders are in one voice, coherent, and value-additive. In this sense, the vision statement is the seed from which all branding efforts grow – and starting with a single seed is vital to achieving a singular, consistent, resonant brand image.
A vision statement directs the hard functions of an organization, including operations and finance, as well as the soft functions, including brand, culture, people, strategy, and management. Once these assets are optimized and aligned, then everyone in the organization can work toward pursuing the right opportunities and mitigating the most significant risks. By providing organizational clarity, the vision statement reduces internal effort, stress, and conflicts. By bringing simplicity in the form of a singular statement, the organization reduces confusion and stagnation. And by articulating a clear purpose, the vision contributes to stronger individual performance and team inertia. All of these benefits roll up to lowering business costs and raising revenues and profits, while building business and brand value.
Does everyone in your organization know the ‘what,’ ‘how,’ and ‘why’ as it relates to their positions, their teams, and the organization? If not, it’s time to develop your company’s vision statement and let it serve as a guiding light, this year, and long into your company’s future.
Stay on top of industry trends and insights.
Subscribe to the Big Ideas for SMBs blog.
About the Author