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Focusing On Your Company’s Vision Statement

Dreams. Goals. Future. Inspiration.

These are all are words associated with a vision. Together, a company’s visionary words are often called a “vision statement.”

The phrase “vision statement” (and its cousin, the “mission statement”) often seem to trigger the eye-roll reflex in business people. (Go ahead, try it at your next networking function.)  Better yet, ask an employee to tell you their company’s vision statement. Do they know it?

The best vision statements – those that employees repeat without looking at the ceiling and with conviction – are not just a string of words that sound lofty and professional. They are timeless, simple, descriptive, and inspirational. They encompass a company’s values. A vision statement with impact defines a company and its direction.

A vision statement isn’t the same as a mission statement: while a vision statement is about the future, a mission statement is about the present. Vision statements are less specific and more “big picture” than mission statements. Your mission is the pathway to your vision.

To build a vision statement, consider starting with questions like: What resonates? What doesn’t? It’s important to differentiate your company. Next is good ol’ brainstorming. If possible, include all employees; otherwise, choose a diverse sampling representative of all. Focus on future goals that have real meaning. The hope is that employees will consciously work toward a collective purpose when they make day-to-day decisions. It should be a constant reminder that even small, everyday actions are essential to meet future goals.  The vision should be timeless.

The length of a vision statement isn’t important; some are short and pithy while others are a full paragraph. What matters is that a statement is one that employees believe in and customers believe. It is a waste of time to come up with a vision statement if no one buys it. Don’t overthink it. Just be real.

Here are the vision statements of several well-known brands:

“Physically, Disneyland is to be a small world in itself.  Encompassing the things that were good and true in American life…. dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America.  I don’t want the public to see or think about the world they live in when they are inside our world created for them.  Beyond the physical places, we want to bring people along into an entirely different world, with our philosophies and idea, our characters, our stories, our past, present, and future, so they are part of it and never want to leave it.  At age 12 or at age 62, we want them to feel curiosity, wonder, awe, fascination, joy, and attachment.  Within this world, we want them to experience discovery and adventure, fun and entertainment, education, participation, and recognition. They will not just come to visit our places or to the theater to see our films. They will bring us into their homes and into their hearts.  We will never settle for having customers or fans – they will be Disney people.  This world will never be completed, it will always be under construction; expanding, diversifying, playing more and more roles in peoples’ lives.”

What is your vision statement?  Can your employees recall it?  Maybe not verbatim, but in the context you want them to remember it?  Your vision is your destiny.  Take the next step and write it down to be the guiding light on your business journey.