Now that you have created your purpose statement, the next part of establishing the overall vision for your organization is the actual vision statement itself. You may be wondering, “Why is the vision statement not created first?” Good question! The purpose needs to come before the vision because purpose is about “why,” and vision is about “where.” You need to know why you exist before you can determine where you are going.
In “Making Your Vision Stick,” author and speaker Andy Stanley talks about the importance of developing a vision that will “stick” with every member of the organization. In doing so, he states that individuals must be able to ask and answer two key questions related to the organizational vision:
Where are we going? How do I fit in?
The vision statement will help team members answer these questions by establishing a clear and concise message about the direction of the organization. When done correctly, the vision statement will be communicated in a way that allows each member of the organization to understand the important role they play in achieving the overall vision for the organization. More on that in a minute.
Let’s talk about creating the vision statement first. In order to be meaningful and memorable for members of the organization, I believe the vision statement should have the following characteristics:
Concise: the vision statement does not need to be long. Some people think it needs to be this lengthy statement, but that makes it difficult to memorize. The less words the better, but the challenge is to say a lot in just a few words. When you can create a powerful vision statement in three or four words, you have created something special.
Clear: the vision statement needs to also be clear enough that a total stranger could read it and know exactly what it means. They should be able to immediately understand where your organization is headed and what kind of impact you are trying to have in the world.
Challenging: the vision statement must lay out a vision for the organization that is challenging. If it is something that can be achieved within a year, that is not challenging. Instead, that is just a short-term goal (which is a good thing that should flow out of the vision). The vision should challenge team members in a way that inspires and motivates them.
Once the vision statement has been established and there is consensus about the statement, the next step is essential for the leaders of the organization:
This is a must! The vision has to be reinforced and ingrained in the culture through consistent communication. This starts at the top and trickles down through all levels of the organization. Leaders should not only consistently communicate the vision, they should over-communicate it. The vision needs to become part of the fabric of the organization. When it does, it will become a catalyst for passion, innovation, creativity, drive, and discipline that will propel the organization and its members to another level. An organization that has unity around a powerful vision is one that is making a difference in the world. I don’t know about you, but I want to be a member of an organization like that.