Friday, August 21, 2009

Vision Statements That Have Meaning

As a consultant I get tired of being asked to help companies develop a vision or mission statement. It’s not that I don’t think a vision or mission statement is important. It’s just that in most companies the vision statement is not a vision and the mission statement is not a mission, they’re merely statements. Statements that usually are pasted up on a wall someplace and seldom referenced again.

A company’s vision is supposed to be a clear view of the future. The vision should be so lucid and tangible that everyone in the company can picture where the company is going and see perfectly the difference between where the company is today and where it wants to be in the future. If the company’s leaders cannot distinctly and prophetically foresee and communicate the company’s future, then a vision statement on a wall is not going to make any difference. It will not move people.

I like to say "a mission on the wall is no mission at all." If a person had a mission or purpose in his life he would not need a written statement to guide his actions. His mission would be so intrinsic to him that it would be “written” in his head, his heart, and his soul.

A company’s vision must be one that stirs people within and engages their support. It must appeal to the ideals and spirit of the employees. If prose can do that, then put your mission in a statement. Otherwise, the best mission and vision for a company is to help employees understand the business imperatives and the implied promises that everyone must achieve in order to secure a viable future for everyone who has a stake in the business.

So if you need help seeing the future, if you want to know what’s imperative to the survival of your business, if you need a clear view of the implied promises on which you must deliver to completely satisfy your customers — then call Innovative Management Group. We will help you define your true vision and mission. We’ll walk you through the steps necessary to identify your strategic intent and map out a very specific operational plan to achieve the vision you have for your company’s future.

However, on the other hand, if all you want is a vision or mission statement, then simply follow the guidelines below to come up with a sure-fire, knock-your-socks-off, humdinger that will sound great, but do absolutely nothing to move your organization forward.

Here’s how to write a worthless vision or mission statement:

The typical mission statement includes two semicolons, two dashes, and at least two business buzzwords, while a vision statement contains only one dash but makes up for it with at least one run-on sentence.

To be at all credible, a company’s mission and vision statements must include at least five of the following terms and phrases:

• world class
• premier
• high performance
• innovative
• leading edge
• benchmark
• innovation
• diverse
• empowers
• exceeds
• delights
• right the first time
• puts customers first
• puts employees first
• puts profits first

Thus, a high quality, but worthless, vision statement might read as follows:

“Our vision is to develop an innovative, high-performance mission statement — one that puts the customer first, puts the employees first, and does it right the first time in a way that delights anyone who has concerns that this mission statement would actually mean something; in order to show that employees can exceed expectations for how much unhealthy food they can consume in a single envisioning meeting; while spending an entire day in a freezing cold hotel meeting room churning out run-on sentences while real work piles up back at the office.”

Feel free to use this vision statement for your company. It's a lot more meaningful than many vision statements I've seen.

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