Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Purpose of Vision

I ran across this description of vision from The Practice of Leadership blog:

"A vision describes some achievement or future state that the organization will accomplish or realize. A vision has to be shared in order to do what it is meant to do: inspire, clarify and focus the work."

Here are some vision statements that accomplish everything this quote describes.

The Google guys, Sergey Brin and Larry Page:

Google provides access to the world's information in one click.

Chief Executive Officer of Cisco, John Chambers:

Cisco changes the way we live, work, play and learn.

Bill Gates, for the first 17 years of Microsoft:

We're going to put a computer on every desk in every home.

These statement are visions, not strategies or tactics. Everything these companies say, do, decide, plan, design, research, invest in, acquire, divest, hire, cultivate, and express in any way is related, guided by, determined by the vision. I commonly hear here is our mission statement, shouldn't that cover it? Mission statements are often too long, too inclusive, too proper, so much so that most employees can't recite them and don't use them as a decision-making tool. A vision statement is precise, concise, and forward thinking. A common mistake that many organizations make is not taking the time and energy to craft a solid, clear, guiding vision. Many people confuse the difference between vision, strategies, tactics, and goals. Each is different. Each is necessary, and they all flow from the vision. If the vision is weak, opaque, off-target, under-developed, outdated, or flat, the effects will be similar in your organization. The vision infuses. The whole organization will mirror the vision and the level of inspiration, enthusiasm, and commitment with which it is communicated and the level at which it is modeled, lived, from the top.

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