At its simplest, an organisation’s vision is simply a distillation of what that organisation can be. It is a roadmap for how that organisation wishes to operate into the future. Unlike strategy, it does not change from year to year. It is a manifesto of that organisation’s core values, priorities and goals which, although they may change around the margins, largely stay unchanged from year to year.
The purpose of a vision is to communicate both internally and externally what the organisation is all about. It serves as a reference point and an anchor for employees, communicating clearly and simply the overarching purpose that their individual roles serve. It communicates to new potential employees the kind of organisation they would be woking for and can be used to facilitate recruitment. It also communicates to customers, members, shareholders and other external stakeholders the goals and governing mentality of the organisation.
In practice, a vision encourages flexibility. According to the MIT Sloan Management Review, “[t]he use of vision as a management tool is the most significant determinant for easing the transition from a bureaucratic to a flexible organization.” A vision keeps decision making in context by keeping the focus on what is most important to a company, making it easier to navigate the strategic opportunities, challenges and questions that present themselves day-to-day.
Organisational values are the core principles at the heart of an organisation. An organisational vision will use its core values as its foundation, and a workplace culture will reflect the values the organisation holds. These values will guide employee behaviour, decision-making and interactions. Values inform employment policies designed to reduce inappropriate behaviour and “fill the gaps” where policies are silent.
Organisational culture can be a complicated concept to pin down but essentially it is the sum of all the parts – physical and intangible – that make up an organisation. It is the unique social and psychological environment of an organisation.
It encompasses the values, priorities and modes of interactions of the individual employees, as well as the vision, norms, language and physical environment of the broader workplace itself.
Organisational culture manifests in the day-to-day interactions between employees and their commitment to a communal goal and vision; in the hierarchical structure of a workplace; and in the organisation’s attitude towards, and engagement with, external stakeholders.
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