“Our eyes are placed in front because it is more important to look ahead than to look back.”
– Warren Buffet
You must have heard about it. As an entrepreneur, a business(wo)man you must have a VISION to be able to drive your business whether it’s a company, a startup or a department. With that being said, a lot of people believe that having a vision is useless. Some others believe in the concept and think it’s something as confidential as a secret sauce. Some others understand the use of having a vision but don’t know how to build it and articulate it.
So, let’s have a look to what a vision is and let’s start with some basic definitions. When searching in a dictionary you’ll find three main type of definitions:
- Vision is the faculty or state of being able to see.
- Vision is a mental image of what the future will or could be like.
- Vision is an experience of seeing someone or something in a dream or trance, or as a supernatural apparition.
In other words, a vision is nothing more than a projection. From a business standpoint, it’s your yearning, your cape, your North Star… what you want to achieve.
For those of you who still think that having a clear vision is useless, I want to challenge you a little bit with the following questions:
- Is your business successful, or at least is it growing as fast as you would like?
- Do you manage to federate people around you? Are people collaborating in an effective way?
- Do your customers and partners understand what you’re doing? Do they trust you?
Without a vision, I can’t believe that your day to day business is exciting. On the contrary, you probably have the feeling to fight every day and it must be exhausting.
People who do have a vision but are preciously hiding it from others, like Gollum is keeping the Ring, might feel the same way as their visionless fellows: lost and misunderstood.
People need a meaning. So does your business.
It’s an old question: “What is the meaning of life?”. Actually, it’s deeply anchored in us. And this question is also valid in business: “What is the meaning of your business?”.
It’s especially true with Milleniums who are seeking for meaning even at work.
This is it. Having a vision is all about setting your destination, how you see your future. As the Captain of your ship, you need to have a cape and indicate this cape to your sailors to be sure that everyone is rowing in the same direction, in the right direction.
This is pretty the same with your vision. You have to communicate and share it with your employees as well as with your customers and partners. Once people will understand your vision then they will be more likely to follow you, listen to you and trust you.
Moreover, once you’ll have a clear vision, it’s going to be much easier to build your value proposition, your priorities and strategies accordingly. A lot relies on your vision!
Building a vision is a necessary evil.
The reason why businesses and organizations don’t have a clear and written vision is because it takes time and a lot of thinking. We usually easily jump into actions and focus on getting results. Stepping back to think about the meaning of one’s business is pretty difficult and not immediate. But still, it’s necessary.
How to build and write a vision statement?
1- First, try to answer to the question the following question: “what do you want to achieve?” and be careful to focus on the “what?” and don’t drift to the “How?”.
- Why does your company or organization exist?
- What kind of values do you want to transmit to the market (customers, partners as well as competitors) and to your employees?
- Where do you see your business in 3 years and in 10 years?
2- Then, sum up the essence of your answers in one simple and understandable sentence. Usually, a good vision statement is inspirational, clear, memorable, and concise. This is your promise to the world!
3- Test it with your employees, your counterparts, people whose profile could potentially be customers or partners. Check if people are understanding your vision statement the way you wanted them to. This verification phase is crucial because it offers the chance to adapt and use words that belong to the same language of people you’ll work with later.
4- Improve your vision statement
5- Test again
Re-do steps 4 and 5 endlessly until people clearly perceive what you mean. Take your time to do this as your vision statement is here to last in time. Then your priorities, strategies and plans will change over time to fit with the moving market, to better meet your customers’ needs and ultimately serve… your vision.
Last but not least, once you’re ready, share and communicate your vision!
A good and shared vision statement can contribute to establish your leadership.
Your vision will create a connection between you, your company/organization/department and your employees, customers and partners. That’s why it’s important to communicate it. It can be on your public website, your intranet, any Powerpoint presentation when you introduce your company or organization, internal communications assets, on social networks…
James O’Toole, author of “Leadership A to Z: A Guide for the Appropriatey Ambitious”, describes this communication as “The task of leadership is to communicate clearly and repeatedly the organization’s vision…all with the intent of helping every person involved understand what work needs to be does and why, and what part the individual plays in the overall effort.”