Building a Vision

A Vibrant Vision for Your Organization

An organization that many of you are probably familiar with communicates the following vision statement on its website. As you read it, consider what organization you think it might be.

“Our vision is to be earth's most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”

Does any organization jump out at you? Amazon, perhaps? 

A properly crafted vision statement guides and provides a vivid image of where an organization wants to be in 100 years (Collins & Porras, 1996). According to Baum, Locke, and Kirkpatrick (1998), there are seven attributes to an effective vision: brevity, clarity, abstractness, challenge, future orientation, stability, and desirability or ability to inspire.

There are two important factors regarding the vision statement: it's content, and how it is communicated. Both factors have an impact on the organizational outcomes that can come from a well-crafted and well-communicated vision statement. Yes, you read that correctly. There are significant outcomes that can result from having an exceptional vision statement.

Empirical studies have confirmed that well-developed vision statements improve followership and have a direct effect on organizational performance (Baum et al., 1998).  Oswald, Mossholder, and Harris (1994) found that when managers are involved in the development of their organization's strategy and when the organization’s vision is salient, job satisfaction, job involvement, and job commitment increase. A clear vision that informs employees of where the organization wants to be in the future is beneficial in that it allows employees to make daily decisions that help the organization reach its end goal. The vision’s impact on job satisfaction, job involvement, and job commitment has an indirect effect on the organization’s bottom line. This is important, but there is also evidence of a more direct effect; organizations that communicate their vision to their employees do better on key financial indicators, such as net profits, than organizations that do not (Jing, Avery, & Bergsteiner, 2014). With this type of evidence, it is hard to understand why organizations don’t utilize the power of vision more often. Here are some tips on how to create your organizational vision:

1. Ask yourself, “What does my organization do?” and then continue asking yourself why five times. For example:

  • My organization creates the best color vision tests available on the market.
  • Why? Because there are occupations in the world that require color vision.
  • Why? Because not knowing if an individual has a color vision deficiency can cause potentially harmful situations in the workplace.
  • Why? Because color vision deficient individuals have a harder time differentiating between specific colors, making their life difficult.

As such, my organization creates the best color vision tests available on the market to help identify people with color vision deficiencies and help them cope with life’s difficulties.

2. Create a vision that allows employees to make decisions within the organization by simply asking themselves, “Would this action align with the vision statement?” For example:

  • Vision: We want to create a low cost color vision test.
  • Question: Should we use the $1,000 laptop or the $500 tablet for our color vision tests?
  • Answer: We should use the $500 tablet because it aligns with our vision of being a low cost color vision test.

3. Your vision needs to answer, “Where do I want the organization to be in 100 years?”

  • This is very important. We don’t want to be too specific because then it may not take growth into consideration. For instance, in 100 years the organization may not be only developing color vision tests. A statement such as, “our organization will help create diagnostic medical devices that allow people to live better lives” leaves much more room for flexibility.

4. Lastly, it is important to include the seven attributes discussed by Baum et al., (1998):

  • brevity, clarity, abstract, challenging, future orientated, stable over time, and desirable (able to inspire)

Do you think you have a great vision statement for your organization? If so please share it with us in the comments.

References

Baum, J. R., Locke, E. A., & Kirtpatrick, S. A. (1998). A longitudinal study of the relation of vision and vision communication to venture growth in entrepreneurial firms. Journal of Applied Psychology, 83(1), 43–54.

Collins, J. C., & Porras, J. I. (1996). Building your company’s vision. Harvard Business Review, 74(5), 65–77.

Jing, F., Avery, G., & Bergsteiner, H. (2014). Enhancing performance in small professional firms through vision communication and sharing. Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 31, 599–620.

Oswald, S. L., Mossholder, K. W., & Harris, S. G. (1994). Vision salience and strategic involvement: Implications for psychological attachment to organization and job. Strategic Management Journal, 15, 477–489.

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