From Pictures to Words

05/18/2015 12:11 pm ET | Updated May 18, 2016


When you look at a company's vision -- do you typically feel inspired by it or if you have seen one vision statement in a particular industry, do you feel you've seen them all? How about your company's vision -- does it inspire you to achieve it? If not, maybe it is time to identify a passionate vision for your organization and then take it from a thought to pictures and then words.

Upon review of mission and vision statements for a variety of successful companies, such as Macy's, Amazon, Microsoft, BMW Group, Google, Facebook and Whole Foods, there are some that are quite compelling and some that are rather ordinary.

For example, Amazon's vision statement has a huge scope and is incredibly focused on the customer: "Our vision is to be earth's most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online." That is an extraordinary vision statement and the company has not only achieved it, but continues to do so over time. The statement is descriptive, compelling and brief. It tells what they plan to do.

Similarly, Google's mission is simple and yet quite expressive: "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful." And that is exactly what happens when you try to find something on-line. How many times a day do you access Google to answer a question? It has become an exhaustive research engine to provide us with instant information.

Whatever you aspire to achieve with your organization has to be specific, but it also requires a stretch to attain it in order to drive you and others to accomplish it. If the vision is ordinary it is more difficult to know when you reach it or if it matters that you reach it. It is worth the time to dream about the company's future. Once you have settled on a compelling vision -- others will want to help you accomplish it -- it's just a natural progression. But now the key is how do you express it?

Often visions are unspoken. Having worked with executive leaders as a consultant, it is more often than not that employees and frequently the executives and/or board are not able to articulate the vision. They each come up with something different. Without alignment on the vision it is difficult to make it happen.

To help you through the visioning process:

  1. First take time to dream about your vision.
  2. Draw pictures of what it looks like -- even if a bit conceptual.
  3. Put a few words with it.
  4. Make a one sentence vision statement that is clear, yet a stretch to reach, and something when stated to others, it is understood.
  5. Begin to articulate it to your leaders and/or board for reaction and refinement.
  6. Begin to articulate the refined version to your employees.
  7. Communicate the vision often so that it begins to become part of the organization's language in describing the company.
  8. Build a plan to achieve the vision.
  9. With planning and executing -- dare to transform your organization!
  10. Once you have everything planned, execute the plan and enjoy attaining your dream.

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