A vision statement is a declaration of an organization's objectives, intended to guide its internal decision-making. A vision statement is not limited to business organizations and may also be used by non-profit or governmental entities.
A vision statement is a company's road map, indicating both what the company wants to become and guiding transformational initiatives by setting a defined direction for the company's growth. Vision statements undergo minimal revisions during the life of a business, unlike operational goals which may be updated from year-to-year. Vision statements can range in length from short sentences to multiple pages. Vision statements are also formally written and referenced in company documents rather than, for example, general principles informally articulated by senior management.
The definition of a vision statement according to BusinessDictionary is "An aspirational description of what an organisation would like to achieve or accomplish in the mid-term or long-term future. It is intended to serve as a clear guide for choosing current and future courses of action."
A consensus does not exist on the characteristics of a "good" or "bad" vision statement. Commonly cited traits include:
Vision statements may fill the following functions for a company:
While a consensus does not exist on the value of mission and vision statements, literature supporting the relevance of these documents to companies outweighs those opposed to them. This may be due to, among other reasons, the positive value of the tools in communicating to internal and external stakeholders or retrospective attempts to legitimize the use of these tools.
Creating and implementing vision statements presents challenges to organizations. They can be challenging to write because they must balance being forward-looking and describing an ideal state without becoming so idealistic that the vision is unattainable. Vision statements can be an employee dissatisfier when staff feel the company's vision is filled with business buzzwords unrelated to the company's services or when the vision does not match day-to-day company policy; for example, a vision statement that includes root cause problem solving while managers are rewarded for fixing problems quickly rather than resolving systemic issues. A vision statement may need to be paired with company initiatives to communicate and reinforce the vision, ensure processes align with the vision, and empower and incentivize employees to take actions that support the company vision.
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