Monday, April 25, 2011

Vision: How to Develop a Vision for Your Business

Entrepreneurs and business managers like you can benefit from the realization that having a vision can provide the required competitive edge to your company strategy and enable you to be successful and profitable.
A vision can serve you in carrying out your leadership role, unifying your employee’s efforts towards the common goal and building loyalty among staff.
Thus far, it is important to have a clear vision which will guide decision making and goal setting.
But, how to you develop that clear and shared vision?
A good vision consists of:
  1. Core values and beliefs
  2. Purpose
  3. Mission
Core values or the ‘guiding philosophy’ are where vision begins. Core values form a system of fundamental motivating principles about what is important in the business and life, how business should be conducted, its view of humanity, its role in society, the way the world works, what is to be held inviolate and so on. Examples of core values could be:
  1. Honesty and Integrity
  2. Product quality and reliability
  3. Corporate social responsibility
  4. Continuous improvement and the like.
To instill the core values in your business, you as the manager must do what you believe in and not just say them.
Purpose, which is the second primary part of a good vision, is an outgrowth of the core values. Purpose is the fundamental reason for your company’s existence. A crucial aspect of purpose is that, it’s always worked towards but never fully achieved. It is like pursuing a guiding star, never attainable, but always pulling you forward. An example of purpose could be:
Merck: We are in the business of preserving and improving human life
A company‘s purpose need not be unique because it does not necessarily differentiate one company from the other .It is a motivating factor. It is very much possible to have two companies with the same purpose.
Mission, the third key part of an effective vision, is a clear and compelling overall goal that serves as a focal point of effort. Unlike purpose which is never achieved, mission should be achievable. It translates the core values and purpose into an energizing, highly focused goal. A good mission has a finish line. Once a mission is achieved, you return to purpose to set a new mission. A mission is a specific goal you are working towards at the moment. You must be able to know when you have achieved it. Examples of a mission are:
  1. Pepsi 1968: Beat Coke
  2. GE 1983: Become #1 or #2 in every market we serve and revolutionize this company to have the agility of a small company.
These three elements; core values, purpose and mission help you define a desired future, which is your Vision. Proceed then to write the vision on a paper as this will force you to think rigorously about what exactly you are trying to do. Communicate the vision in a specific, vibrant and engaging way that provokes emotion and generates excitement. Think of it, as translating the vision from words into pictures, of creating an image that people can carry around in their heads.
An example of a good vision would be Henry Ford’s, ‘I will build a motor car for the great multitude. It will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one and enjoy with his family the blessings of the hours of pleasure in God’s great space. The horse will have disappeared from the highways; the automobile will be taken for granted’.
Finally, for the vision to be effective it must be clear (well understood) and shared by all the key people in the organization and that there be a commitment to and vigorous pursuit of it.

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