Writing your company vision
Getting your vision right is critical if you’re to inspire your teams to work together on a common mission. A strong vision offers a company clarity on their reason for being and inspiration for employees to go the extra mile.
For start-ups a robust vision can give investors confidence in the direction the founders will take. For established corporates a vision can help re-ignite innovation and new thinking.
I’ve worked with several businesses over the years to help craft their internal visions. I’d like to share some of my top tips to help those of you out there who are busy crafting your own company visions.
- Keep it short. No more than a few sentences or short paragraphs at most.
- Craft it in collaboration with the ‘guiding lights’ in your organisation. These are people who understand the value of a good vision and who recognise it’s worth to the wider business.
- Be careful with words, very carful. Words are powerful and carry a lot of meaning. Words can often be lost in translation or may not work across multiple geographies.
- Be wary of those who want to ‘wordsmith’. For many this means watering down a vision that might be politically sensitive or too bold for a conservative business. Be bold and brave.
- Look to having a vision that focuses on a 12–18th month plan but with a view to a 5 year horizon. You may be a start-up but investors will want to know where you think you’ll be in 2021.
- Avoid mentioning products and services too much. Some you’ll rationalise and others won’t even be in your mind yet. Allow your vision to help those in product and service teams to develop new ideas without feeling hamstrung with a vision that spells out their existing world.
- Try and write your company vision from a collective voice. Using ‘we’ is very powerful and will help employees buy into the vision you create.
- Don’t obsess too much about differentiation. Easy to say when every company thinks differentiation is the only thing that matters. Remember your vision can be replicated by anyone but it’s how you execute on that vision that really matters. It’s in the execution that your vision will come to life.
- Design a vision that allows for market expansion. Again, don’t limit it to your existing business set-up. You may be a car sharing business that eventually goes into home sharing. Create a broad vision that allows for expansion into new market opportunities.
- It’s about alignment not agreement. The two mean very different things. All you need in crafting a vision is alignment. Agreement can often mean defining a vision by committee. You end up with a vision that doesn’t inspire anyone. The cautious will overrule the brave.
- It will take time. It might take many weeks or months to get right. It will guide your business and everything you do for up to 5 years. Take the time to get it right.
- Remember your vision is an internal set of statements. It won’t go on a billboard but it might guide messaging to the outside world.
- A vision is part of a wider story. Make sure you’ve written yours. Your wider story might include a company in trouble or customers who are desperately in need of your idea. Having a wider story can help back up any vision you come up with, especially if you go down the brave route.
- Don’t just use words. Images and sound work just as well. Play with various media to find the right balance.
- When you’ve got your vision make sure everyone understands what it means to the company and to them as individuals. Employees need to understand their role in delivering any vision.
- Like all best laid plans things change. Try not to tamper too much with your vision but if you find the world around you changing, adapt as required. As a start-up, don’t get stuck talking up a vision you know is no longer relevant in 2017.
Creating a company vision is exciting work. A good vision will help designers; engineers and customer service agents deliver great work. They’ll feel inspired to come to work. You give everyone a collective mission to aim for. Without a clear and powerful vision a company will simply drift.