written by: Vikas Vij•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 6/9/2011
A great vision, like a great idea, must not remain confined in the head. It must be articulated and shared in order to turn it into a reality. It is important to know how to write a vision statement in order to create a standing model of inspiration and ambition for the organization.
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Tips to Help Write Your Vision Statement
Great companies are founded with a great vision for the future. But the vision must not remain confined to the mind of the founder or the leader of the organization. It needs to be articulated perfectly on paper, and for that to happen, it's important to know how to write a vision statement. Putting the company’s vision into words is crucial so that it gets communicated to everyone associated with the company, and continues to provide direction and inspiration to the organization for years to come.
Introspection and Brainstorming Sessions
The founders, promoters or top management of the organization must evaluate what role they envision for the company in the long run, and where they wish to see the company within a reasonable period of time into the future. It is an introspective exercise that outlines the future course of the organization. Rather than making it a one man’s vision, it can be a collective effort where a brainstorming of the ideas, thoughts and aspirations of all top leaders of the company is conducted to arrive at the most pragmatic and truly aspirational vision for the company’s future. This exercise should include the listing down of the company’s goals and objectives and its principles and values on which the entire organization will be built. This thought process is the most crucial part of how to write a vision statement that succinctly verbalizes everything that the company stands for.
The process for these brainstorming sessions can begin with each member of the top team, including the company's founder or CEO outlining their vision for the company individually. It helps to know the perspective of each individual about the company's future, and arrive at more realistic answers for the company's vision. Once each member of the team is ready with their thoughts, a group discussion session can be conducted with the CEO or another designated member acting as the moderator. This can be an open-minded forum where each member is allowed to express his or her views freely. A series of such sessions can be held if one session does not lead to a reasonable consensus on the group vision. This detailed exercise can go a long way in determining the company's future, therefore, it is worth all the time and effort invested in it.
Review Examples of Great Vision Statements
It is important to be original and natural in the endeavor to create a vision statement for the company. But at the same time there is no harm in reviewing samples of excellent vision statements of great companies that have created corporate history as well as vision statements of competitors operating in the same industry. However, this review exercise must aim only to widen the perspective, but it must not influence articulation of the original vision of the organization. Integrity and a sense of purpose is most fundamental to a company’s vision statement that sets the company’s direction for the future. The review process of exemplary vision statements ensures that if any critical aspects on the company's vision have been missed out during the brainstorming sessions, there is still opportunity to revisit the entire exercise and make corrections.
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Writing a Vision Statement for your Business
Define the Timeframe of Vision Statement
Some organizations prefer to be very specific about the timeframe of their statement. They may choose the vision statement to be worded in the following format: “Five years from now, XYZ will be the number one service provider for commercial cleaning services in Chicago." It is quite like J.F. Kennedy’s legendary vision statement, “We will land a man on the moon before this decade is out." But there are also organizations that are likely to have a vision statement that is not bounded by time limits. For example, Google’s vision statement has an element of timelessness to it: “To develop a perfect search engine." Now “perfect" can be an endless quest.
Maintain a Confident and Affirmative Tone
One of the cardinal principles to follow when writing your vision statement is that it must have an underlying tone of immense conviction, self-confidence, and positivity. Instead of focusing on “what you don’t want your business to be" the entire focus must be on “what you want your business to be." The vision statement should be a reflection of a strong leadership that believes in what it is doing, how it is doing, and most importantly, the why of what it is doing. A vision statement is not about a hope or wish, but it is a crystal-clear expression of your organization’s determination and decisiveness about its own future.
Create Several Drafts and Evaluate Objectively
Once the company is clear on what they want contained in the statement and what contents to include in it, a few drafts should be prepared that communicate the vision in an effective manner. The top management of the company should evaluate each draft objectively and review their merits and demerits. After due analysis and deliberation, the draft which appeals most strong may be chosen as the organization’s vision statement. Alternatively, two or more drafts may be synthesized together to come up with the right statement that spells out the company’s vision most effectively.
Check which of the drafts is answering most of these questions consummately:
What is the purpose of the creation of your business?
What unfulfilled needs of the consumers your business will fulfill?
Who do you envision as the ultimate beneficiaries of your business?
What would be the shape, size or market position of your business in the future?
Do a Sample Testing of your Vision Statement
Once your vision statement has been finalized, share it with some trusted and experienced friends, colleagues or family members, those other than the people who have been involved in its formulation. Those will be neutral observers who can provide you with useful feedback and reactions. So before formalizing the vision statement and officially announcing it publicly, test its effectiveness within your close circles. This will ensure any flaws that may have been overlooked despite several drafts and reviews may still emerge on the surface and there will be enough opportunity to rectify them.
The key point to remember on how to write a vision statements is that they must be direct, unambiguous, and honest in their representation of the organization’s vision about its own future position in a competitive world.