Investors love it when companies have a clear and compelling vision. It makes it easy to get excited by where the company is going and picture it as a big business.

It works because it’s meaningful and aspirational. Customers are drawn to the business and know what to expect when they get there. Employees are happy to dedicate part of their life to making the vision a reality and have a true north to guide their day to day decision making.

At it’s core a vision is a statement of purpose with an aspirational goal. Microsoft’s famous “A computer on every desk and in every home; all running Microsoft software.” is a good example. It’s easy to understand, highly aspirational, a little bit controversial and is a clear true north for employees to drive towards.

A few other things to think about: make the vision future focused, directional, vivid, inspiring and authentic.

Vision statements are a dream for the long term and they should be enduring. Live Better With will be helping make day-to-day life better for people with long term illnesses for many years to come. Mission statements by contrast should be about the next 1-2 years and be specific enough to form the basis for company objectives. Many people use the terms vision and mission somewhat interchangeably, but being clear about the distinction helps companies differentiate between the dream and current realities and crystallise the vision in a strategy for the short to medium term.

To make it simple, thing “Why = Vision” and “What  = Mission”.

LinkedIn does this well. Their vision is to:

Create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce

And their mission is to realise part of the vision by:

Connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful

Finally, it’s critical that the vision is authentic. It must chime with the company’s products and culture and everyone working in the business should know and buy into the dream. Empty vision statements that are written after the fact by the c-suite and received by staff with a cynical nod add nothing and can be corrosive to company culture.

In our experience the best company visions are an articulation of the company’s purpose and are there when the company is founded. They may not have been wordsmithed into a compelling sentence, but they are in the heads of the founding team and the sentiment is regularly communicated. It’s never too early to put it in writing though and in any event that should be done by the time a company gets to around 50 employees and the founder stops knowing everybody personally.

About the Author

This article was written by Nic, Managing Partner at Forward Partners.


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