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Vision statements get a bad rap for several reasons. First, they are poorly defined by people who confuse vision and strategy. Second, they are written with the same level of detail as a construction crew’s plan for a new home. Can you remember every detail? Of course not (and if you don’t mind, I want to know your powers).
Contrary to the “uselessness” of a vision statement reported by some, they do not serve a purpose: to identify the optimal future state of a company. If you don’t know what âgoodâ looks like, then you’re fine. To minimize confusion, here are eight ways that vision statements add value:
1. A vision statement offers guidance.
Without a clear description of which direction you’re heading, any direction will suffice – and that’s not ideal. Vision statements articulate what the business aspires to be at some point in the future.
Related: Vision Statements: Why You Need One & How To Create One
2. Vision statements set the limits for decision making.
Just look at Southwest’s vision to be the cheapest airline. Every decision made by employees, such as choosing between snacks and refreshments, was governed by the overall vision of the company. If one choice was more expensive than the other, guess which one they chose?
3. Vision statements serve as behavioral boundaries.
Although the vision and values ââare different, vision statements can include the values ââa company holds dear which, in turn, describe behavior that is ethical – and therefore, unethical. Here’s a simple way to distinguish between the two: A vision is where you want to end up tomorrow. Values ââare the beliefs and practices that are dear to you today and that will propel you into tomorrow.
4. Vision statements arouse emotion.
When done correctly, vision statements speak of emotion, and emotion determines behavior. Vision statements remind us why we chose our place of work and give us a reason to perpetually pursue the company’s goal.
Related: How To Set A Vision Statement That Employees Will Follow
5. Vision statements stimulate growth.
Just like lofty goals require us to, well, stretch ourselves, a compelling vision acts as a call to action for individual and organizational growth. The best way to grow is to pursue something that you are not quite sure you will achieve.
6. Vision statements repel curiosity.
In my book, Navigating Chaos: How to Find Certainty in Uncertain Situations, I suggest that complacency precedes catastrophe and that curiosity is the antidote to complacency. Vision statements are a way to turn the mental wheels of the hamster, because achieving a vision is not necessarily the intention, but learning along the way is.
7. Vision statements make for difficult conversations.
When an employee’s behavior is outside the bubble of acceptable cultural norms, you can easily refer to the vision and ask, “How does your behavior support our vision?” This way the conversation stays within the framework of the best interests of the company rather than crossing the boundaries of personal judgment or ego.
8. Vision statements enable leadership.
A vision reminds current and future leaders to fulfill their leadership responsibilities by adhering to the strategies put in place to pursue this vision. Without vision, it’s easy to go astray (or never engage in the first place).
There is a lot of online sources it can help you build a vision statement, and the process of doing so is invaluable. If you have another reason why the vision statements are important, please share them in the comments section below.
Related: Richard Branson on Developing a Vision for Your Business