Several years ago at an environmental conference for a major corporation, presented a slide of vision statements for five corporations, including their own. Only around 20% of the participants could correctly identify their own company’s environmental vision, about equal to what one would expect from random guessing. More recently at a meeting with top business executives, not a single one could match their competitors’ names with the respective sustainability vision statements. What is going on here?
Defining the Vision Statement
In the hierarchy of statements that define what a company is all about, vision ranks just below mission (why it exists) and values (how the organization will behave). Strategy, key performance indicators, and implementation plans follow vision. In other words, a well-defined
vision statement is very important, and it’s no wonder. A vision statement is a compelling image that helps individuals understand the future direction and achievement of the organization’s purpose. It answers the questions “Where are we going?” and “What will it look like
when we get there?” A strategic vision depends on an organization’s ability to see and feel the desired state. It stimulates action and serves as a rallying point for the troops and a yardstick for measuring progress. It sets a broad outline for a strategy, leaving the specific details to
be worked out. Thus, while many things may change in an emerging, uncertain world, if the vision is sufficiently robust, it will continue to guide the organization.