Now that I tackled what a business strategy is, why companies formulate strategies (to gain competitive advantage, and how to gain competitive advantage in my previous posts , we can jump into the key process I wanted to help you, business owners with, business strategy development.
Today we are starting the process of putting together a strategic plan and we are going to start with the formulation of a strategic vision, sounds pretty easy because it is an overlooked organizational tenet, however;
if you do not know where you are going (as a business), how would you know you have arrived or getting closer?
One of the biggest mistakes I’ve observed that most business owners make, is not investing much time in clearly formulating and articulating what their company vision is. Some go to an extend where they copy and paste, and some use corny generic statements that doesn’t correspond with what they want to achieve.
When I work with clients, there are top 3 questions I always ask before getting started on their projects;
- What is your story? Why did you start this business
- Where are you going with this business? (Paint the picture of where you see your company in the next 3 to 6 years)
- What is your business scope?
The answers to those questions, combined, makes your organizational vision.
Now let’s get to it;
What is a vision?
A vision is a picture from the future that you see today. That’s my basic definition.
A vision gives you (and us the outsiders) the direction you are headed and the shape of your future.
What does that mean?
It means without a vision your journey lacks direction and shape. That’s pretty a chaotic and frustrating journey.
A well-thought-out, passionately communicated strategic vision pays off in several respects:
- It crystallizes the business owner’s (and senior executives’) views about the company’s long-term direction.
When you lack direction (and focus, because a vision keeps you focused), you end up losing your footing and stretching yourself too thin, becoming a jack of all trades, and pretty much like a headless chicken allowing others to decide what your company should be about and the direction it should take.
- It reduces the risk of rudderless decision making.
Your strategic vision becomes your benchmark and frame of reference – if it doesn’t align with the company vision then we are not doing it!
- It is a tool for winning the support of organization members to help make the vision a reality.
With a clear and exciting vision, you won’t need to beg people to join or stay. They will stay because they believe in the vision. Employees will go all out to produce results because they bought into the vision, and they know and feel that their work is contributing to something great.
- It provides a beacon for lower-level managers in setting departmental objectives and crafting departmental strategies that are in sync with the company’s overall strategy.
The reason why you will always fire people because “they’re not delivering” is because the work they are doing everyday doesn’t align with what you want to achieve – and it is your fault as the company CEO (being a CEO comes with a responsibility, it is more than a business card written CEO at XYZ)
At top-strategic level, where you are, a strategic vision is developed. And if in your vision you want to be a leader in digital marketing serving Fortune 500 companies, then your sales and marketing department must have objectives and tactical strategies that will help the company champion digital marketing,and attract the Fortune 500 companies.
- It helps an organization prepare for the future.
Still on the digital marketing and Fortune 500 companies example; if that’s your vision, and you want to see it happening in the next 3 years, then all the years that leads up to that must be about capacitating the company to put in a position to realize that vision.
What Makes a Great Vision Statement?
Now that we understand what a vision is and the importance of having a strategic vision; it means your vision statement must be;
- Specific and Easy to grasp (not long and generic. Clear and focused enough to shape decision-making )
- Future focused and Graphical (When you articulate it, one must see the picture and it must clearly describe what your organization will be like in several years.)
- Relevant and Purpose-Driven (Reflects the company’s response to the challenges of the day.)
- Inspiring.( Appealing and engages people to commit to a cause.)
Some of the companies that used the key elements that makes a great vision statement:
Bathu, Sneaker brand
“Our vision is to tell a proudly South African story to the world and be a leading shoe retail company, we have a desire to establish a brand which African’s can proudly affiliate with.”
Key elements from Bathu’s vision statement:
Being a storyteller. Leading shoe retail company. Brand affiliation and Africans.
KM – Consulting and Development Services , A strategy consulting firm
“To be a thought leading consulting company, in strategy, renowned for launching profitable and scalable businesses and turning around businesses that were on the brink of failure.”
Key elements from KM – Consulting Vision Statement:
Thought leader in strategy. Launching and turning around businesses.
University of Johannesburg, Academic Institution
“An international University of choice, anchored in Africa, dynamically shaping the future.”
Key elements from UJ’s Vision Statement
International. Anchored in Africa. Shaping the future.
In the next article I am going to focus on the formulation of a Mission Statement, what it is and how to craft it. Most organizations confuse a mission statement with a vision statement, and some use them interchangeably.
I hope this helped you to think about the vision for your company, and prompted you to revise it.
If you’d like feedback on your vision statement, you may share them in the comments section and I’ll give my views on how you can polish it to match the key elements.