#224 from R&D
Innovator Volume 5, Number 7
is a management consultant with the Morrisey Group, Merritt
Island, Florida (800-535-8202).
He is the recipient of the Cavett, the National Speakers
Association’s highest award, and he is author of the three-book
series, Morrisey on
Planning (Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, 1996), as well as Creating
Your Future: Personal
Strategic Planning for Professionals (Berrett-Koehler, San
first, mission or vision?
This is almost like the “chicken and egg” situation.
I can make an equally good case for going either way.
However, since many of the questions you will be asking
yourselves, in connection with the development of your mission
statement, have visionary implications, and since my definition of
mission has a broader interpretation than that of many other
writers on strategic planning, I have chosen to deal with the
development of vision following mission.
I feel that, for many organizations, there is a value in
separating the two, even though they are closely related.
is Vision and Why is it Important?
a representation of what you believe the future of your
organization should look like to your customers, employees, owners
and other important stakeholders. Vision is almost entirely intuitive in its origin.
It is an outgrowth of the values and convictions of your
Is brief, preferably under ten words
Is catchy and easy to remember
Is inspiring and a challenge to future achievement
Is believable and consistent with your strategic values and
Serves as a rallying point with all important stakeholders
Clearly states the essence of what your organization must
Allows for flexibility and creativity in execution
Do We Develop Our Vision?
I will approach
the development of your vision as an effort completely separate
from the development of your mission, although you may find it
more useful to develop them together.
Here are some
questions designed to get each of your management team members
thinking about how you should be looking at the future.
What do I see as the key to the future for our
What unique contribution should we be making in the future?
What would make me excited about being a part of this
organization in the future?
What values need to be stressed?
What are or should be our core competencies?
What should be our positions on such things as customers,
markets, profitability, growth, technology, quality, employees,
What do I see as our greatest opportunity for growth?
For this effort
to be effective, you and your management team need to allow your
feelings to come out. As
with mission development, this process needs to take place away
from your organization’s premises in a setting where creative
ideas can flow freely. Developing
a vision is an intuitive or creative process.
You need to respond to these questions initially as though
you were looking at the best of all possible worlds.
Assume that nothing is impossible.
It’s a lot easier to tone down an impractical or
unrealistic statement than it is to expand one that is
you are creating a vision of what you would like your organization
to become in the future, not necessarily what it is today.
I urge you to use
a skilled facilitator in this process which includes:
Having each team member write their answers to these
questions (or a modified version of them) independently, in
advance of your meeting, without discussing their answers with
other team members. This
enables your cogitative thinkers to be on equal footing with your
spontaneous thinkers and encourages the sharing of different
points of view.
Having all team members share their answers to one question
at a time at a meeting called for that purpose, with the answers
posted on a chart pad or other visible recording instrument.
The ground rules here are, of course, that no judgmental
comments may be made about anyone’s responses until all have
been presented, although questions for clarification are
Discussing the answers to each question once everyone has
responded, with the objective of reaching consensus (or as close
to it as possible) on key words or phrases that reflect the
organization’s future perspective on that particular question. This can be one of the most creative discussions your team
might have as you focus on factors that will challenge you to even
Reviewing answers to all questions to reach agreement on
the relatively few key words or phrases that need to be included
in your vision statement.
Drafting a vision statement that meets the criteria
identified earlier. You
can probably do this with your entire team participating since it
is much briefer than your mission statement.
However, having a few members of the team make an initial
draft for review and modification by the total team is an option
if time is limited.
Reviewing the draft with other key stakeholders to make
certain others view it in the same light as the team that created
it, making modifications as appropriate.
Here are a few
examples of vision statements that could have been
developed through a process similar to this.
Some of these are paraphrased versions of existing company
statements while others are speculative.
Yours should be original to you and a clear representation
of your present and future commitments.
“We will be
seen as the high-value supplier in each market we serve.”
produce any product and enter any market where we can become a
dominant supplier in our industry.”
“We will be the
best company in our industry in terms of customer satisfaction.”
“We will become
a major global presence in our industry.”
“We are and
will remain World Class in customer satisfaction and quality.”
continually cheat yesterday’s customers by being so much better
business, innovation, fun and profit go hand-in-hand.”
Your strategic vision is a representation of what you
believe the future should look like for your organization in the
eyes of your customers, employees, owners and other important
Your vision statement should be brief, catchy, easy to
remember, inspiring, and a challenge to future achievement.
It should focus on what you want to become, not necessarily
on what you are now.
It can be developed separate from or as a derivation of
your mission statement.
Your vision needs to be communicated or displayed in a wide
variety of ways to ensure that it is remembered by, and inspiring
to, your important stakeholders.