Is there anything more uninspiring in large companies than their ‘vision’? Almost every major organisation has one. Do you even know what your employer’s vision is, let alone use it a means of motivation and to guide the decisions that you make on a daily basis? Here are a couple of examples that can be found on the website of large Australian businesses, and which are fairly typical of the ubiquitous company vision.
One large bank's vision is “To be one of the world’s great companies, helping our customers, communities and people to prosper and grow”.
A major oil and gas company's website states “Vision - Our aim is to be a global leader in upstream oil and gas”.
Do you find them inspiring? I am not trying to single out those two companies; the point is that most organisations’ visions are similar. They are typically written as a one sentence statement and are very generic, intangible and formal. It is difficult to see how this is benefiting the company or anyone associated with it.
So is it even worth creating a company vision? Yes, but it must be one that actually fulfils the role of helping employees, shareholders, suppliers, the community etc understand what an organisation is aspiring to be and achieve. A company vision should excite people, trigger an emotion and spark curiosity.
This will help attract people to want to work for your organisation and to stick around for a long time in providing their best efforts to contribute to achieving the vision. It brings meaning to work - which helps us to get out of bed on those dark and cold winter mornings - because we want to be there.
A one sentence statement developed in an artificial, forced and time constrained workshop setting with participation of just a select few in a company is unlikely to produce such a result.
A company vision should develop over time. Over many conversations, debates and potentially false starts. A one sentence vision statement isn’t likely to hit the mark.
Why not write a short story of several paragraphs which paints the picture of the vision? Create a one page visual with images and words which bring the vision to life. Or create a short video with a range of elements that convey the vision and elicit excitement.
And just creating an inspiring vision is not enough; it needs to be an on-going conversation and reference point for a company’s people if it is to be an effective tool to inspire and influence success.
A company’s leaders should ensure that its vision is clear enough that its people would know if it had been achieved – after all what is a vision for if not to define what your company will achieve and be in the future – and to then rally people’s efforts towards getting there.
And don't over look that a company’s vision can change. Just as the vision for a country changes over time so too can and should a company’s.
A vision is still critical in helping to guide, inspire and provide a company’s people a common focus – but we need to dispense with uninspiring vision statements and get creative, inclusive and collaborative with it.