For me, the best vision statement I have come across comes from a children’s book shop near where I live whose vision statement is ‘Growing readers’. What could be more simple yet more powerful than such a precise statement?
Here's an article from Steve Bowman expanding on the power of your vision statement.
A few weeks ago, I was hosting a Masterclass on advanced strategy and governance...
And I asked one of the attendees, a Board member, to describe their Vision statement to me…
‘Give me the gist of it’, I said.
After a few moments, it was obvious this person could not remember it at all.
I should have been surprised.
They clearly had a deep understanding of virtually all other dimensions of their organization.
But I wasn’t surprised... They were the second person in a row who had forgotten what their Vision statement was on about.
Granted, I put them both on the spot (it may have even been before their first cup of coffee).
But here’s where it interests me…
When I pressed them, they could articulate the difference they wanted to make to their respective communities (the basic elements of a Vision statement), and they understood the value of articulating this difference.
So, if they each had a grasp on why they exist as an organization, why couldn’t they relay their Vision statements?
I put to you their Vision statements were likely not a reflection of the unique difference they make, but a lengthy, ambiguous slogan…
Long on the statement and short on the Vision.
This makes it virtually impossible to use your Vision statement for anything.
If your Vision statement isn’t focused externally, specifically on your unique, desired impact then your ability to use it in informing strategic decisions at the Board and management levels is limited if not impossible.
If you can’t or don’t use your Vision statement, you may be missing out on one of the most valuable tools available to you in the Boardroom.
Some have even asserted that Vision accomplishment in nonprofits should be just as important as profit attainment in private sector companies.
Getting your Vision right is that important.
Here are three of my best tips to get more out of your Vision statement:
1. Look for the key ‘intents’ of your Vision:
If the main sections can be summarized in 3 or 4 words or phrases that accurately portray your Vision, make a point to remember those words (skip the filler words).
These intents form the foundation of your vision filter (more on that later).
2. Add it to the top of your meeting agenda:
Always use the Vision as the filter for how you phrase questions or comments during meetings and address the business discussions within that context.
Use it to add value to your discussions and evaluate decisions against their achievement of the Vision.
3. Use it to guide strategy, performance and key Board/management decisions:
The Vision statement should be understood and used shamelessly by all employees.
Be mindful of the Vision in every decision that is made by the Board – do these decisions reflect the Vision you hope to achieve?
Begin using the Vision to explain your motivations.
Most importantly, it’s up to you to live the Vision statement.