A Recap on Vision Statements
As we covered in our introductory post on vision statements, a vision statement defines your organization’s future state and provides direction for where you are going as an organization. They are 5-10 years in nature and describe what you’re setting out to achieve in that timeframe. In this article, we will share with you all our best tips on how to write a vision statement.
Quick Tip – Your Mission and Vision Need to Work Together
Your vision statement works in tandem with your mission statement. A great mission statement explains what your purpose is and why your organization exists. An impactful vision statement must be directional, as it spells out where your organization is going in the years and even decades to come.
Writing a Vision Statement Creates Clarity
The ideal vision statement is a clear and concise portrait of your loftiest aspiration, the boldest affirmation, and the dream you dare to dream for your organization, those you serve and for the good of humanity.
A great analogy for a vision statement is the difference between a Monet and a Norman Rockwell painting. The Monet is beautiful and idealistic, but hazy if left up to interpretation. However, the Rockwell is crisp and crystal-clear and there is no mistaking what the image conveys.
How to Write a Vision Statement
As we mentioned in our introductory post, vision statements need to answer a few questions, including:
- What does success look like?
- What are you seeking to achieve?
- What will your organization look like in 5-10 years?
After you’ve answered these questions, you can begin to stitch together your vision statement. We recommend using this format:
- We envision: Use this statement because your vision should be representative of what the world will look like when your organization has reached the pinnacle of success.
- Verb in future tense: It is critical to be thinking ahead and in action. Visions are in the future, so they should be written in future tense.
- The future state: Clearly stating your organization’s future.
- Description of future state and impact: Stating the impact in the most clear and concise manner is the most important part of your vision statement because it brings your vision to life. It also shows that you are thinking of how your success will affect the lives of your employees, those you serve and the community at large.
Over the years, we’ve developed a quick checklist of traits that accompany good vision statements. Great vision statements have these five traits:
- They represent at least 5 years. Vision statements are at least five years ahead or longer.
- They’re in future tense. Make sure to say “where.” We love to use “we envision.” You can also use the phrase “we will.”
- They are directional. The statement should be directional. You aren’t there today, but you aspire to be there in 5+ years.
- They’re audacious. Visions are big, broad and bold assertions, with high-reaching thoughts.
- They’re descriptive. Expand your vision statement by adding some descriptors about how the world will look different when you reach your vision.
How to Write Vision Descriptors
What are vision descriptors?
Vision descriptors are statements that accompany your vision, that articulate distinct “mini-visions” that support your overall vision of success. We like to align these descriptors to the different planning perspectives to create a long-term “mini-vision” of success for each portion of a plan. In practice, it looks something like this:
- Financial: Realize $100M in revenue, or 20% year-over-year growth, in the next 5 years.
- Customer: Become a top player in our market positioned as “innovators” in the minds of our customers.
- Operational Excellence: Scale our infrastructure to increase food output by 50%.
- People Expertise: Have an enthusiastic and growing team of 200 individuals who are passionate about changing the food industry.
Having these “mini-vision” statements aligned to your overall vision of success gives you a good starting point for your strategic plan’s long-term strategic objectives. It helps create the alignment of targeted long-term goals to reach your overall vision of success. If you need help creating vision descriptors, check out these vision statement examples for inspiration.
Pro-Tips to Follow as You Write Your Vision Statement
Here are a few last tips to consider as you write a vision statement:
- Get to 80% and worry about the exact wording later. Word choice can make a team run in circles going back and forth, which wastes an incredible amount of time.
- Stay grounded by assessing your internal and external environment.
- Check your statements to make sure your mission and vision statements explain your core purpose and define where you want to go. Remember, mission statements explain why you exist. Vision statements explain where you are going.
For a deep dive on Vision Statements, check out the post on What is a Vision Statement.
Free Vision Statement Cheat Sheet
Don’t forget to download the free vision statement cheat sheet!