Some excerpts from others. (my highlighting)
In a business setting, you can think of outer vision statements as the way you would like
"outsiders" such as your customers, suppliers and the community to view and behave
towards your company. An inner vision statement would describe the way you would like
your employees, owners and other insiders to view your company.
Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more powerful than knowledge.” I believe this is
true in many respects because while knowledge allows you to see things as they are,
imagination allows you to see things as they could be.
When we become aware of what is possible, we begin to realize that dreams can be
achieved, that challenges can be conquered, and that problems can be solved. In doing so
we open up a completely new set of avenues and possibilities, which by itself is a
tremendous source of passion and energy.
Benefits of Visioning
The process and outcomes of visioning may seem vague and superfluous. The long-term
benefits are substantial, however. Visioning:
Breaks you out of boundary thinking.
Provides continuity and avoids the stutter effect of planning fits and starts.
Identifies direction and purpose.
Alerts stakeholders to needed change.
Promotes interest and commitment.
Promotes laser-like focus.
Encourages openness to unique and creative solutions.
Encourages and builds confidence.
Builds loyalty through involvement (ownership).
Results in efficiency and productivity.
As you engage in the visioning process, be alert to the following vision killers:
Fear of ridicule
Stereotypes of people, conditions, roles and governing councils
Complacency of some stakeholders
Just as an insincere vision-mission can confuse members and cause inefficiencies and
waste as they try to fulfill a vision that doesn’t really exist, a sincere statement of vision
and mission puts employees on the same page as management. If there is coherency and
consistency between what management says and how management behaves, then
members will more clearly understand what the organization is about, and they will be
much more likely to behave in ways that fulfill the true goal of the organization. (Even if
that is to deliver bad customer service in order to maximize profits, if that is what the
organizational leaders really want.)
Creating a sincere, honest statement of vision of what the organization is and can be is an
important step in getting your organization to pull together. The first step in creating a
sincere vision statement is for the leadership to spend some time reflecting on what their
vision for the organization is. Then, once crafted, it should be clearly communicated to
all levels of the organization. If you start now, you could be ready to roll out your new
vision-mission statement with the New Year. But it is important to create a vision-
mission statement to last for the foreseeable future. Constantly changing vision-mission
statements can be as confusing as misleading ones.
A Guiding Principle
The vision-mission statement is written for the members of an organization. A clear
vision statement should serve as a guiding light for members of the organization to
understand what the organization is about, and to what ultimate principle all their efforts
should be working toward, in both direct and in supporting roles. Clear, accurate,
reflective vision-mission statements are a crucial way of getting all members of an
organization to pull in the same direction. Those outside the organization should be a
A less than sincere vision statement can actually create problems in an organization
instead helping it. Members of an organization will know when vision statements do not
really express the real core values (what is important) or principles of the organization.
They will see the statement as, at best, meaningless, and, at worst, a lie. What effect do
you think this has on the credibility of the organization’s top management?
Inconsistencies Cause Confusion and Waste
Let’s consider an example when is comes to sincerity and honesty in a vision statement.
Frequently, an organization might put something like “to provide the highest level of
customer service” in a vision statement. A problem might arise when an organization’s
real ultimate goal is not the best customer service, but to maximize profit margins. While
many organizations have such a core purpose, they are not willing to be forthright in their
vision statement. Therefore, they come up with an artificial vision statement that
Providing top notch customer service, for example, is expensive. It requires the customer
service staff be well trained, well-compensated, have decision making authority, and feel
like they are an appreciated and important part of the organization. A commitment to
high levels of customer service can certainly lead to increased sales and to growth.
Training, and compensation, however, are expensive propositions can also negatively
impact short term profit margins.
“ Happiness comes from looking forward
to your next successful move, not from looking back
on your past successes.”
- Sun Tzu
Organizations stating a vision of excellent customer service while really seeking high
profit margins have a serious compatibility and consistency problem. For example,
having underpaid, poorly trained, and stressed out customer service representatives with
high turnover rates and no real authority is not the path to excellent customer service.
If the real vision is high profit margins, then that is what the vision statement should say.
Then at least the underpaid, under-trained customer service staff will understand their
conditions, instead of looking with bewilderment at the vision statement promising
excellent customer service. Not only will they understand the vision and mission of the
organization, they will be much more likely to behave in ways that fulfill the true goal of
It is not that the leaders of the organization are typically tying to be deceptive, nor do
they intend to confuse their staff. As stated earlier, the problem typically stems from a
lack of understanding of what the role of the vision statement is and its importance in
communicating core values within the organization. We hope examining an example of a
misleading vision statement clarifies its significance and impact.