3 Key Steps to Creating an Effective Vision Statement
Originally published: 01.01.13 by Wade Mayfield
If your business doesn’t have a clear idea of the goal, you’ll never get there.
One of the often-overlooked leadership responsibilities is developing a vision statement. The reason is fairly simple. Creating a vision statement, or a corporate vision, can become an exercise of theoretical and nebulous talk that does nothing to help the organization move forward. I am challenging this thinking and will tell you how to create a practical vision, which will help you, your organization, and your employees reach new and higher levels of success.
At one time or another, we have all been part of an organization or company that lacked a sense of purpose or direction. This may also have been true of us individually. It’s like trying to move forward without a rudder. Keep this old saying in mind as you think about the need to create a vision: “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” We don’t want to take just any road to the future; we want to take the road that gives us the best opportunity for the company and its employees to be successful.
Not too long ago I was a part of a meeting where we discussed many topics, such as budgeting, customer growth, compliance, and marketing. After several hours of sitting through this meeting, I came to a realization that without a clear understanding of the vision, mission, and purpose of this organization, nothing we do will matter. It was easy to see that until a team knows what it is they are building or creating, they will treat symptoms instead of solving problems and moving forward.
Treating symptoms — also known as putting out fires — is a disjointed, if not dysfunctional, approach to business; but when a business has a clearly stated vision, mission and purpose for everyone to follow, it has a planned, coordinated and purposeful path to success.
Here are three key steps to creating a vision for your organization:
1. Clearly define what it is you intend to build, or create. It’s the first rule of leadership. Either you as the leader, or your leadership team, need to define this so that everyone else knows where the business is ultimately headed. If employees think they are just showing up to play a game each day — and don’t realize the company leadership is aiming for the Super Bowl — then that goal simply won’t be met. The best and easiest way to get started is to make a list of your key strengths as a leader, as well as what your company and employees are really good at. Typically, whatever your company is really good at is indicative of your leadership skills and strengths. Always remember that the organization takes on the face of its leader.
2. A good vision, or vision statement, forms an equilateral triangle of winners: the company, customers, and employees. If any of these are out of balance, the vision loses its effectiveness. An example of this might be, “We want to be the largest and best service provider in our city.” The company will win because it is a vision of growth. Customers win because they will receive the outstanding service you will be able to offer. Employees will win for a variety of reasons, such as job security and more opportunities for advancement.
3. Keep it simple. All too often we complicate things that would be best approached with simplicity. The more complicated and long winded the vision statement, the less likely your employees will remember it. A vision statement must be a living thing that guides your organization and your employees. Resist the urge to have meeting after meeting to discuss this word or that word. An effective vision is clear, concise, and easily followed. A simply stated vision statement is also much easier to communicate to your leadership team, employees, and customers.
Once you have created your vision statement, you’ve taken the first and important step of setting your company up for a long and successful future. This is when the fun begins. With a clear, simple vision statement, you will have clear understanding of the road you and your company will take and what you expect to accomplish. And you will have a much clearer understanding of what it is you and your team will accomplish. This is the first step in linking vision in to strategy and moving out of the theoretical world of business and into the practical world of leading a successful business. In the next article, we’ll talk about some practical ideas for moving forward with your vision statement.
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Wade Mayfield is President of Thermal Services, Inc., Omaha, NE., an hvacr firm with over 100 employees serving the commercial and residential market. Wade is both a student and practitioner of the management skills necessary to sustain company growth, empower managers and employees and build a wealth of happy and satisfied customers. This series shares some of the basic practices of Wade’s management philosophy. Wade was also recently elected to the board of directors for the North American Technician’s Excellence Association (NATE).
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