9.01.2006

How To Write a Good and Effective Vision Statement

If you're writing a Vision-Mission Statement, here's a simple guide on how to write one.

Writing a Vision-Mission Statement is a process. If you're writing one for a company or organization, you need to get your people involved in the process. If you're writing one for yourself, go over it every day or whenever you feel like reviewing it. Rewrite it if you still don't feel it's the one right for you.

Let's take a look at a Vision Statement that one of my clients wrote. It states:

"To be the preferred discount & privilege card company providing the best range of establishments offering a complete range of classification and categories, aiming to generate jobs for deserving Filipinos."

Just a short background. I wrote the company profile of this company. In that profile, I stated its vision. However, the company came up with another vision (stated above) which was not consistent with what I wrote in the company profile. In my opinion, the vision statement that the company came up with was weak, ambiguous, and it doesn't sound a vision at all. The Vision Statement has to be clear, simple, sound, and convincing.

Let's get started. First, let's organize the thought of the Vision Statement because it is not clear what it's trying to envision. To rephrase it:

"To be the preferred 'discount and privilege card company' that provides the best range of establishments offering a complete range of classifications or categories; and, aims to generate jobs for deserving Filipinos."

What I just did are:

  1. Instead of the ampersand symbol (&), I spelled it out because it's a formal statement.
  2. The phrase "discount and privilege card company" should be enclosed with quotation marks to make it clear that it refers to one whole idea.
  3. Instead of "providing", I used "that provides" to make it sound grammatically correct and neat.
  4. I made "classification" plural to parallel it with "categories"; and, if this is related to "categories", "or" is the better word.
  5. Then, I paused the statment with a semi-colon after the word "categories" and connect the next thought.
Does it sound better now? Not quite. It's not even a sentence! So, let's make it a complete sentence.

"To be the preferred 'discount and privilege card company', we envision to provide the best range of stablishments offering a complete range of classifications or categories; and, to aim to generate jobs for deserving Filipinos."

Better but still not quite. Let's analyze it further.

First, "vision" is a noun. That means, we want something; not DO something. So, we envision something. To start a statement with "to do" is more like a mission than a vision. We, therefore, need to remove the words "to be", "to provide", and "to aim to generate".

Another thing. In that statement, it has not introduced itself. Who is "we"? So, let's do it this way:

We, at ABC Company, envision to be...."

Now, let's examine the main idea. Each of these words -- privilege and discount card, establishments, classification and categories, jobs, Filipinos -- presents an idea. Wow! So many ideas in one statement I get confused! What are they talking about, really?

A Vision Statement should be specific, clear, and realizable. So let's remove about the "jobs for deserving Filipinos". How about the "establishments"? Let's remove it, too; the non-sense "classification" and "categories" included. What's left is about the privilege and discount card company.

"We, at ABC Company, envision to be the preferred discount and privilege card company."

Well, it's simple and it's clear. So, what's the vision here: the card or the company? Does it matter? The idea is all wrong because the company has already been existing as a company that issues discount/privilege cards. The vision has been realized. That means, we need a whole new idea, change everything; but, let's keep the word "Filipino".

Let's look at another angle.

The vision states "to be the preferred". The word "preferred" is more like a reactive response of the consumer. When a person "prefers", he is making a better choice but it doesn't mean that the thing he has chosen was good. A consumer can say, "I prefer this card because the membership fee is cheaper than the other card available. It's OK but I'm not saying it's the best." So, a reactive response of a consumer is very far to be a vision one might wish to realize after a period of 10 or 20 years.

Think of your Vision as your biggest dream; something you'd want to realize (rather than achieve) after 20 years or more. It is not your goal, which is short-term, say 5 years. It is not your objective which you wish to achieve in a shorter term, say one year. Your vision, when realized, is your laurel and your crown.

The Vision Statement is not also an action to take. That's in missioning. So "to build a house" is not a vision; but "a house that will introduce a new form of architecture" is a vision.

A good vision is something that's good for the people. Not exactly for the company; rather, BY the company, FOR the people. The company serves as a responsible and positive catalyst - the seed. The new state or better condition of the people is your fruit.

Your vision may sound like an "impossible dream"; but that's what visions are for. So you will have to qualify your statement to make the "impossible dream" possible like what I wrote for my client:

"We, at the ABC Company, envision financial freedom and quality living for every Filipino around the middle class market."

The vision here is "financial freedom and quality living". It's FOR "every Filipino" BY the ABC Company, serving as a catalyst. "Around the middle class market" qualifies the big "dream" because it narrows down or delimits the scope of the "dream" to only Filipinos in the middle class market.

Next, we'll talk about the Mission Statement.

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