Vision statements: traps or treasures?

Creating Vision and Mission statements that work

This week, more about Beg to Differ is thinking and writing about Vision statements. That’s because Brandvelope Consulting is working with a very large organization right now to help them develop a new Vision and Mission statement. You might think that such statements are easy to come up with. We Beg to Differ.

Appearances are deceptive
Photo be me: a sign hanging on a fence outside a Buddhist temple in Chiang Mai Thailand. Apparently the most deceptive appearance was the 20-character width of this sign.

Why Vision is so hard

With more than 2000 employees, pilule a portfolio worth billions of dollars, approved and hundreds of customers in dozens of verticals that rely on them for very different services, my client has a big rock to move: they’re trying to come up with a single Vision and accompanying Mission statement that will guide them for years to come.

Before they came to us, they’d already been working on a Vision statement for nine months.  And from all appearances, they’d done everything right: the Vision working group had brought together dozens of incredibly smart volunteers from across the organization.  And through a series of exercises, they were able to agree on corporate values, personality elements, and to capture a clear sense of their history, challenges, and strategic direction.

All good so far: passionate, committed employees, a well-designed process, and total support from the leadership of the organization.

More surprising yet, they managed to create several Vision statements that don’t suck.  Unlike most such statements, these are coherent, articulate, and generally hit all the right points.

As a matter of fact, each one could easily serve as a Vision statement for a less demanding place.

What could possibly go wrong?

Um, we mentioned they hired us, right?

To their credit, my client didn’t settle for statements that were just “good enough”. After polling executives and focus group testing the statements with employees, the committee had to admit that they weren’t there yet.

The big problem:
the statements sounded nice,
and they were totally accurate,
but they weren’t useful as tools.

Getting Vision right

This week, we’ll talk about a few angles on this issue.

  • Where Vision statements go wrong
  • Vision vs. Mission vs. Positioning Statements
  • Making Vision sticky.
  • Examples: awesome Vision statements / awful Vision statements

But before we get there, I’m interested to hear from you: Have you been through the Vision / Mission / Values process yourself? Any advice or horror stories to share? Examples of awesome statements or awful ones?

2 thoughts on “Vision statements: traps or treasures?”

  1. I am struggling with this for my business.

    and am really curious to follow you on this.

    VISION for me is about creating a
    V visual … that
    I inspires … people to
    S see … their future impossible without being
    I involved … with your
    O organization …. to attain a better
    N networth … on some level(spiritual,physical, emotional, or intellectual)

    Mission for me is about creating a vehicle/path that reflects the values reflected in a vision.

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