If you're old enough you remember George H.W. Bush getting slammed in the press for not getting the "vision thing." For those of you who are too young to remember this issue, Bush senior had a problem talking about why he wanted to be President and what the country could expect.
He did get elected for a first time, but the lack of vision dogged him during his four years as President. When Bill Clinton ran against him, he got the vision thing and was able to communicate it to the country. This was one of the main issues that brought President Bush down. He didn't get the "vision thing."
In today's world vision equates to why. If you can't clearly explain why you're in business you might have the same issue the President Bush had. You also might have some of the same problems. If you're employees aren't clear with what you're trying to do they can't or don't get behind you.
I've found that having a clear vision is one of the keystones of many successful businesses. Among the value you get from clarity of vision are:
Your employees know why your company exists.
When your employees understand the purpose of your company and why you started in the first place, it's easy for them to opt in or out. Those who opt in become valuable employees and those who opt out shouldn't have been there in the first place.
A clear vision helps you communicate with your customers.
Too many businesses today are me too businesses. These businesses look and act like everyone else in your industry. You don't want your business to fit in with that group. Unless you have spent a lot of time of figuring out why your in business and what's special about your company you are likely to be seen as a me too business. I can tell you that I get way too many calls that end in less than ten seconds. It's always because the caller has no idea what makes their company special.
Having a clear why results in having better outcomes.
If your employees know why it's important for the companies mission to be implemented, it's easy for them to come up with good ideas for improvement. As much as we like to think we create everything on our own, having others along for the ride always makes for a better result. I've learned that knowing why something is important is much better than what.
Having a clear vision allows your employees to feel better about themselves.
You might be asking why this is important? Don't we just want our employees to show up and do a good job? Well, we do and it's much easier for this to happen when your employees understand your vision. You might even have a good mission statement... but, a mission statement is about what it is you do. A vision statement speaks to why. Magic happens when we combine both what and why. If I know why you want to do something, it becomes easier for me to jump on your bus. Isn't that what you really want?
I know that for some of you this sounds awfully touchy/feely. In some respects it is. I would ask that you do a favor for me. Look back at your own life and answer this question, "When was the time I was most engaged with an organization or project?" Was this a time when you a real sense of purpose? This is what vision does. It gives us a sense of purpose. High engagement gets us better work. I bet that if you're really honest with yourself you'll admit that this likely comes from vision.