Understanding vision is tough...immensely so. So difficult there are currently over 30,000 books on Amazon.com offering to help us figure out vision for our businesses. The dictionary even has 4 different definitions and each has at least 2 subsets! It's an abstract word about an abstract topic.
Even if you are able to figure out your vision, most organizations have difficulty using vision to impact their companies. Let's try to make this (somewhat) less complicated.
For the purpose of this article I'll start with this definition of vision from Merriam-Webster: Vision 2(c) - a manifestation to the senses of something immaterial. Let's use Merriam-Webster define two of these words:
Manifestation: an event, action, or object that embodies an abstract idea
Immaterial: spiritual, rather than physical
In a business sense vision means: the effect, an event, action, or object (which embodies the spirit of your organization) has on ones senses.
There's a reason we use senses to describe our experiences:
"I love going there. It's my happy place"
"The whole experience left me with a bad taste in my mouth"
"This situation smells funny."
"Ordering from them hurts my head"
"Something feels off."
Every aspect of your company affects the senses of all stakeholders and leaves them with an impression about the organization as a whole. This is what your company delivers in every product, service, and interaction.
But what vision are you delivering? Not that written down, published corporate vision...I'm asking about the unspoken vision that guides the actions of your office, plant, or entire company. What does the effect an event, action, or object (that embodies the spirit of your organization) have on ones senses feel like to your stakeholders?
The question for you is: What feelings do we want the (client, employee, vendor, product, service, etc...) experience to deliver? That's your vision. Once you know that, you can start building out the rest of your core operating principles for your company's culture.
Here's how my fake business, Howe's Widgets, used it's vision to create it's company's cultural framework:
Vision > Purpose > Mission > Values > Behaviors
"Bring delight to as many people as possible"
Vision gives your organization a purpose to fulfill using whatever product or service you offer. This is ultimately what you'll be remembered for by your staff, clients, vendors, & community.
"To be the preferred widget provider in each of our markets"
Howe's Widgets believe their widgets bring delight their clients, so to bring delight to as many people as possible they need to be the preferred provider in each of their markets. Purpose is the why behind what your company's mission is supposed to deliver.
"To delight our clients in a way that cultivates loyalty"
To be the preferred widget provider in each of their markets their company needs to deliver delight in all aspects of their company, which in turn will make people loyal to the brand. Mission is the way the organization utilizes values to fulfill the purpose.
"Honesty. Excellence. Respect. Value. Ingenuity."
The best way Howe's Widgets know to delight the clients in a way that cultivates loyalty is to use these values to measure all behaviors within their company. Values are the tools used to gauge appropriate behaviors.
"Teamwork. Accountability. Cleanliness. Directed Development. Celebrating Success."
These are the minimum behaviors required to implement honesty, excellence, respect, value, and ingenuity in each process every day. Behaviors are the physical manifestation of your vision that your stakeholders experience.
Howe's Widgets believes the tenants listed above are the best way for us to deliver delight to their stakeholders. To do so they have to infuse these tenants throughout every aspect of their organization then consistently embody and enforce them.
Takeaway questions for you:
What does the experience of buying something from us feel like?
What does it feel like to work for us?
How do vendors like selling products to us?
Understanding vision is tough, but once you know your vision, your purpose will be come clear. Then you can build an organization to deliver your vision through your product or service. Maybe vision isn't that tough after all.
If you need help with this or have additional questions, send me a note email@example.com.