What is, as Bush put it; ‘the vision thing?’
Well, you’d be surprised how few companies, large as well as small, actually get this right, including more than a few who enjoyed mocking poor old George.
I was recently discussing this story with a client who assumed they had ‘the vision thing’ sorted and who proceeded to proudly tell me theirs. Unfortunately their vision was not really a vision, nor was it a mission statement (more of which later). What it was, was a hybrid of the two which fell short of being either, thus failing to provide either direction or focus to their strategic planning.
So; What is the difference between your mission statement and your vision? Why shouldn’t they be merged into one? And, why do you even need them?
Let’s start with the Mission Statement. If you are in business on your own or in a small partnership you probably know, roughly, what yours is. The problem is, as your business grows and you get pulled in different directions you might forget it if you haven’t recorded it.
For your Mission Statement is the very core of your business, in fact it is why you are in business at all. It doesn’t need to be flashy, motivational or carry bells and whistles; it just needs to be an accurate statement of fact which easily reminds you and your staff why you exist.
It is unlikely that your company Mission Statement will change very much although you should stay aware that sometimes progress leaves inadaptable companies behind and be prepared to review it if the line of business you are in is becoming outdated and superseded. We can all think of companies that went to the wall because they slavishly continued manufacturing products the world no longer wanted.
The Mission Statement can be long or short, the key is to be descriptive and true to your reason for existing.
A long mission statement might not make engaging reading but can provide for complete accuracy in describing your purpose for being.
Shorter, punchier mission statements can be just as effective while leaving far more leeway for a company to evolve in fast moving markets.
And what of the vision. One of the world’s leading strategists, Jacques Horovitz, phrased it superbly:
“The vision is what enables us to define the future, to work towards a specific objective.”