Vision statements are a part of a healthy and positive company culture. Organizations that have clear vision statements inspire and motivate their employees, have more guided decision-making, and are better positioned to achieve their long-term goals.
However, crafting a vision statement is not as simple as merely filling in the blank in the sentence “our vision is ________”; rather, it’s about capturing the essence of your organization, which you can do by following our recommended vision statement best practices.
Your organization's vision statement is about more than just its purpose, but knowing your org’s purpose is the best place to start.
Purpose is defined by the Harvard Business Review as “the ultimate goal of the business, the essential reason why it exists, and how it contributes to the common good”. The Harvard Business Review highlights Google’s original purpose to “organize the world’s information” and Netflix’s purpose of “entertaining the world” as examples.
Your organization’s purpose should describe the value that you bring to the world (your customers, stakeholders, community, etc.). In this way, purpose and vision should both be future-focused. As the Harvard Business Review notes, finding your company purpose—and therefore your vision as well—is at the intersection of these four questions:
- What does the world need?
- What is your company uniquely good at?
- How does your company create economic value?
- What are people at your company passionate about?
Answering these questions should be the first step in finding your organization’s purpose, playing an important role in vision statement best practices. In order to answer these questions, you will need to have a clear understanding of your organization’s values, as they will inform how you define your purpose and vision. Some examples of organizational values include respect, accountability, sustainability, and teamwork.
Your vision statement should be something you can see yourself saying out loud to people.
One of the key vision statement best practices, and one that many organizations don’t follow, is that your vision statement should be something you can share with someone without feeling awkward or like you might lose their attention halfway through. As vision statements come with the innate pressure to be a summary of everything your organization envisions, there’s often the tendency to create a long list of things to encompass your vision.
While this can be a helpful starting point as you work to determine your purpose and values, it’s not what your final vision statement should be. Remember that your organization’s vision statement needs to be clear, concise, and easy to remember— both internally for everyone at your org and for anyone who hears or reads it (or has to say it out loud).
A vision statement that is written in a bubble will be just that—shiny, entrancing, and incredibly flimsy.
It’s not hard to come up with a bunch of ideas when you’re working alone, but the challenge in creating a vision statement lies in incorporating the ideas of several, if not many, stakeholders.
Getting input from stakeholders is a critical vision statement best practice, as it ensures that the vision statement is a true reflection of your organization. Be sure to ask for and incorporate feedback from employees in various roles, customers, and investors.
Ultimately, your vision statement should serve two main functions. First, a compelling vision statement should resonate with your team and key stakeholders, and second, it should work as your organization’s “North Star”, guiding your company to future success. By keeping your purpose and values at the heart of your vision, your organization will be closer to reaching long-term goals.