Why do you even need to care about a vision statement? Isn’t it just some trite saying that belongs on a poster of bald eagles or skydivers jumping together in a big circle?
Wrong. A well-written vision statement can become a centerpiece and aimpoint for a non-profit, ministry, business, or family. When you want to ignite passion in your calling or field of work, a clearly defined vision can help you do that. So, early on in the formation of your organization, take time out to craft one.
Whatever your “tribe” is, it can benefit from a vision statement. Below I’ll give you some basic guidelines as you begin to craft a vision for your life or organization.
Take some time aside from the normal hustle of life and dream a little. Picture a perfect world in your sphere of influence, gifting, and calling. Why do you (or why does your organization) exist? What problem or challenge are you out to solve, what service do you want to provide, what are you creating? Imagine a world where you or your business has been wildly successful… what does that world look like? That’s what you want to describe in a vision statement.
Find a whiteboard, a clean sheet of paper, or a large pad on an easel to write down your ideas. Sentences aren’t necessary at this point. Draw pictures, use bulletized lists, and jot down important words and phrases. If you have a team, now is the time to get your inner core together, [those that understand and have already embraced the vision] and brainstorm.
Now the important part: Write your vision. A good guideline to follow is this quote from Colin Powell:
Vision is lean and compelling, not cluttered and buzzword-laden
First off: Lean: Don’t drone on. Be concise and clear.
GOOD: Smithsonian: Shaping the future by preserving our heritage, discovering new knowledge, and sharing our resources with the world.
BAD: Coca-Cola:Our vision serves as the framework for our Roadmap and guides every aspect of our business by describing what we need to accomplish in order to continue achieving sustainable, quality growth. People: Be a great place to work where people are inspired to be the best they can be. Portfolio: Bring to the world a portfolio of quality beverage brands that anticipate and satisfy people’s desires and needs. Partners: Nurture a winning network of customers and suppliers, together we create mutual, enduring value. Planet: Be a responsible citizen that makes a difference by helping build and support sustainable communities. Profit: Maximize long-term return to shareowners while being mindful of our overall responsibilities. Productivity: Be a highly effective, lean and fast-moving organization.
also BAD: Human Rights Campaign: Equality for everyone
Remember, it’s a vision statement, not a tagline for your logo.
Then, compelling: Balance “lean” with compelling. Make sure your word captures the imagination enough to inspire others.
GOOD: Toyota Global: Toyota will lead the way to the future of mobility, enriching lives around the world with the safest and most responsible ways of moving people.
BAD: Goodwill: Every person has the opportunity to achieve his/her fullest potential and participate in and contribute to all aspects of life.
“Not Cluttered”: Stick to the core message and don’t add unnecessary fluff.
GOOD: Amazon: “Our vision is to be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.
BAD: Creative Commons: Our vision is nothing less than realizing the full potential of the Internet — universal access to research and education, full participation in culture — to drive a new era of development, growth, and productivity.
We’re just talking about Creative Commons, right?
Finally, Not Buzzword-Laden: Your vision is for your tribe, but it will also be read by others and those thinking about joining. Don’t make it so full of lingo that it doesn’t actually mean anything.
GOOD: Oceana seeks to make our oceans as rich, healthy and abundant as they once were.
BAD: Make-A-Wish: Our vision is that people everywhere. will share the power of a wish.
What exactly is the “power of a wish?”
Once you’ve got a vision statement that is truly your vision for the future, let people know. Help your followers/employees realize that this is what they are working towards. Remind them: when you see the job becoming tedious and mundane, re-emphasize the vision and re-kindle that passion.
Once you’ve got a vision laid out, you’ll hopefully know where you want to go. Simply follow that path and keep testing your organization to see if they are working toward the vision. Next, I’ll talk about Mission Statements and how they are a natural outgrowth of Vision Statements.
What is the vision statement of your organization, your life, or your ministry? Does it follow the rules above? Does it inspire? Post it here and let’s check it out…