Leadership - 1 A vision statement is a critical component of any successful business. Ironically, it is also the most overlooked and undervalued business component. In most companies, vision statements spend more time decorating walls then they spend actually guiding the organization. Sometimes they hang there so long, there is nobody left in the organization who knows what they mean, who wrote them or why they should care.

Can you recite your company’s vision statement from memory? If you don’t have it memorized, do you happen to know the gist of your company’s vision statement? If you don’t, you’re in good company. About 70% of employees in most organizations cannot recite the vision statement, and it’s probably not their fault. When that many employees don’t know the company’s vision, the company either doesn’t have one, it has a bad one or it doesn’t use its vision statement for its intended purpose.

A vision statement is the company’s internal GPS. It defines purpose, provides direction and communicates what is important to the organization. A good vision statement inspires employees to give their best and provides direction on how they are expected to behave. It stretches the organization beyond its four walls and sets priorities. An effective mission statement challenges the organization to grow and provides a mental picture of what long-term goals the organization plans to accomplish. The best vision statements are clear, memorable, inspirational and concise.

Here are some reasons why so many vision statements never reach their full potential.

They Lack Clarity

How many times have you read an entire document produced by your company, yet had no idea what the point was? That happens a lot with vision statements. Businesses use far too many words to say nothing important.  Many fall into the trap of using a lot of corporate jargon to make themselves appear more intelligent. The result is a statement which looks like it was run through spell check with all recommended changes accepted. The true meaning gets distorted.

They Offer No Destination

A vision statement is a company’s roadmap. It has an endpoint and a clear path to get there. A good vision statement is simple. It describes what your company does, it tells employees and customers where the company is headed and it is easy to recite or explain. A vision statement does not define how the vision is accomplished. That is the mission statement’s job.

Read the March issue of my monthly newsletter for more information on why vision statements fall short. The article includes examples of good and bad vision statements and also shares the story of a credit union that is using its vision statement as the catalyst to transform an entire community.

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