Your vision is a description of your desired
future state. Thus youll create a vision statement describing your
organization as youd like it to be in, say, ten or more years. Note the emphasis on
the future. For the vision statement isnt true today. Rather it describes the
organization as you and your planning team would like it to become - in the future.
A vision statement should build enthusiasm. It
should provoke inspiration. It should stimulate people to care. It should rally the
troops to action. Thats what President Kennedy accomplished with the vision
statement he offered in early 1961. Kennedy said:
I believe that this nation should commit itself to
achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon, and returning
him safely to earth.
Indeed, Kennedy rallied the troops to
action. And in the summer of 1969 - before that decade was out - a man did walk on
the moon. And return safely to earth. Unfortunately, John Kennedy didnt live to see
his vision become a reality.
As for the length of the vision statement, perhaps a
paragraph or two. But length is less important than content. Its what the vision
statement says that counts. And the positive effect it has on peoples enthusiasm and
Itís important to note that the vision
statement isnít a description of detailed action steps. In fact, it
doesnít describe action at all, but rather it describes a desired future
state Ė a state of success. As to how youíll arrive at that success,
thatís the job of your strategy and its detailed tactics.
How Does the Vision Statement Differ
from the Mission Statement?
Referring to the above figure, note that
the arrow representing Mission connects the present and the future. This
is because your mission statement is true both today and in the future.
But the vision statement, unlike the
mission statement, is not true in the present. Thus the arrow
representing the vision statement does not connect to the present, but
only to the future.
Note too, that both the mission statement
and the vision statement exist within an environment of values. This
because both the mission and the vision must be in concert with the
organizationís values. For a more in-depth discussion of the difference
between mission and vision, please see our article, "Mission,
This article is adapted from Bill Birnbaum's book, Strategic Thinking: A Four Piece Puzzle