Google ‘create a company vision’, and you will have enough reading material to keep you busy until next Christmas, but it won’t leave you much time to actually create the vision you are after.
But create it you must. In times of constant change, your company vision is a touchstone. It is your aspirational image of the future you conceive for your organisation. The ‘right’ vision – one that tells a true story of what matters to your company and paints an inspiring but achievable picture of what the organisation could become at its very best – can inspire the team, motivate greater effort and give meaning and purpose to all your organisation’s endeavours.
As a leader, a clear vision is decision making tool. It is a reminder of what can and should change – tactics, operations, strategy – and what is not negotiable – values, and the future you are striving towards.
Jim Collins’ and Jerry Porras’ Harvard Business Review article, ‘Build your company vision’ usually tops any online search on the subject. In 1996, Collins and Porras outlined a framework to help large organisations identify core values and build a vision.
What they capture so clearly is the essence of a great company vision, and the value it can bring.
“Truly great companies understand the difference between what should never change and what should be open for change, between what is genuinely sacred and what is not. This rare ability to manage continuity and change – requiring a consciously practiced discipline – is closely linked to the ability to develop a vision. Vision provides guidance about what core to preserve and what future to stimulate progress toward.” (Collins and Porras, 1996)
Truly great companies understand the difference between what should never change and what should be open for change, between what is genuinely sacred and what is not
That’s the theory, but in the real world, how do you practically translate a brilliant idea you came up with in your garage, or at a makeshift office in the corner of your lounge into a compelling, inspiring story that brings others on board and drives your business forward?
Or, how do you distill the complex operations of a large team or business, geographically spread, serving a wide range of customers into a memorable, meaningful single vision that all can buy into and all can be inspired by?
To make the process tangible, Nick Ingram of Clear Thinking talked to Insight Edge about the process he takes companies and not-for-profit organisations through, to distill their plans into a meaningful vision.