The value in having a clear and well understood vision
As January draws to a close in the coming weeks its likely that many companies will be wrapping up (or beginning in some instances) the process of setting KPIs and objectives for its employees, for those operating on a calendar year anyway. In many instances this brings around the conversation of company vision and the importance of tying personal objectives into where a company is heading, tying objectives into a vision.
Company visions are tough subjects though, its easy to speak of having a clear vision and of visionary people but its vitally important that a vision be clear, easy to understand and easy for employees to remember, something not all companies get right. Its an elevator pitch in its own right and if truly bought into should be able to be called to mind instantly by anyone in the company regardless of their position or job title.
Essentially, a vision statement should clearly articulate the goals of a company and inspire / direct the decisions and actions of the company thereafter. Importantly it should reflect the company ethos and values and act as inspiration to employees throughout the organisation. It should shape and inform their thought process and if any new initiative being considered has no bearing on the vision you'd be well within your rights to ask whether its relevant to do right now.
Vision statements don't always need to be company-wide, specific project can have visions statements too, the key though is no matter what the vision relates to (company or project) it should always be concise and coherent. If its not describing the goals, telling a story and is ultimately achievable it wont land with its intended audience and get the necessary engagement and buy-in needed to make it happen.
Three things I have found to work particularly well in writing or shaping vision statements over the years are:
The statement needs to have a direction – namely, where the future of the company is headed and how it plans to reach that destination. It needs to establish where the business is going, how it intends to get there and who the responsibility lies with for reaching that end point.
Be specific. A wishy-washy statement will not get the job done as no one will know exactly how to get there. It should be centred around actionable objectives and have a clear and consistent language written in the present tense but looking to the future – e.g. three years’ time.
Finally, its imperative that all the subsequent goals of the business align back to the vision statement in one way or another. The statement needs to resonate with everyone at every level in order to be effective and for the employees to be clear on how they are contributing to that vision.
If you get all this in place you're pretty likely to have made your first step in the right direction, delivering the vision after that though , well that's a whole different challenge altogether and one for another blog perhaps.