How to Write an Inspiring Vision Statement

A vision statement is supposed to be like the North Star, serving as a light that guides your organization into the future.  Today we’re going to talk about how you can put together a great vision statement that unifies and inspires your team, and helps you achieve the future that you dream of.

Are You Inspired Yet?

You know what gives vision statements a bad name?  Stuff like this:

 

Are you inspired yet?  Clear on the direction we are headed?  Me neither.  Maybe this will help…  Does the pretty picture get you energized or give you a better idea of where we are supposed to be going?  Didn’t think so.

What does it even mean?  Why have such a thing?

I guess the boss can check the “vision statement” block because you are supposed to have one.  But mostly it just teaches us all to ignore vision statements whenever we see them.

What is a Vision Statement?

The point of a vision statement is to help your team visualize what you want the future to look like in a way that unifies and inspires them.

Like that great philosopher Yogi Berra once said:

If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up some place else. - Yogi Berra Click To Tweet

The idea behind a vision statement is to be clear about where you are going.  At Lifehack, Kirstin O’Donovan likens it to “a photograph of your future business.”

A Vision Statement is like a photo of your future business. @kirstinodonovan Click To Tweet

When you have a clear idea of what you look like in the future, it helps you make the right strategic decisions now to help you get there.

And not only does a good vision statement help you, it can help everyone on your team.  If everybody is on board and understands where you are going, they can use the vision statement to guide decisions at every level from factory floor to the CEO and everything in between.

Sound like a good thing to have?  Sure.  So let’s break it down a bit and I’ll give you some examples of what good vision statements look like.

 Building the Vision Statement

The best ones to me all seem to have most of the same characteristics.

Clear – Anyone can read and understand it immediately; you don’t need to be an insider or have an MBA to know what they are talking about.

Stanford – To become the Harvard of the West.

Simple – Not a lot of mumbo jumbo or complex phrasing; the best are simple, declarative, to the point.

Disney – to make people happy

Aspirational – They define a better place, a better future; they describe something everyone can get behind and believe in; think big and go after it.

Nike – to be the number one athletic company in the world

Visual – Written so you can clearly see in your mind what the future can look like.

Microsoft – A computer on every desk and in every home; all running Microsoft software

Future-casting. – Describes your organization in terms of the future; often 5-10 years out.

Wal-Mart – To become a $125 billion company by the year 2000

When you combine these elements, you end up with a clear statement of what you want the organization to look like in the near future.

A great technique for figuring out what to write is to imagine that a national magazine wrote an article about your organization five years from now.  Think about what you would you want them to say, and go from there.

When putting your statement together, it is a good idea to have your key teammates collaborating with you on this.  Maybe work in small groups to come up with ideas, then compare thoughts to develop the best statement.  Just be sure to bounce the final result against the criteria we’ve talked about so you don’t end up with a forgettable poster on the wall that everyone ignores.

The Takeaway

Once you have a vision statement, what do you do with it?

Keep it alive and visibly in front of you; remind your team regularly.  Refer to it before making decisions big and small.  Ask if what you are doing right now leads you towards or away from that ideal future, and let that guide your actions.

And as Beth Miller points out over at Executive Velocity, the job of the leader is to communicate to the team how their effort is living up to the vision.

The leader communicates how the team is living up to the vision. @SrExecAdvisor Click To Tweet

Remember, a vision statement isn’t just something you are supposed to have; it is something you need to use to guide your organization to its potential.

Now it’s time for you to get busy and re-look your organization’s vision statement, or if you don’t have one yet, move it to the top of the priority list.

And if that “vision statement” I read at the beginning happens to be from your organization, maybe you can send the boss a link to this video to help them out a little bit.

I hope you found this video helpful wherever you are on your leadership journey.  If you did and you are watching on YouTube, be sure to like and subscribe.  For a lot more practical leadership tips and techniques you can put into action right away, be sure to subscribe over on my main site, RapidStartLeadership.com

Thanks for listening, we’ll see you next time.

Credits:

Vision Statement Examples: http://www.brighthub.com/office/entrepreneurs/articles/98285.aspx

Magazine article idea inspired by Erica Olson from VirtualStrategist at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioY-YSOKBtY

Crushin by Audionautix is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

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