The Vision of a business is the “dream”, however ambitious, of what the company aims to achieve and become in the future. It reflects its values, ideals and aspirations. This concept, which is sometimes underestimated as it is considered too abstract, is the starting point for defining the business’s growth strategy, business model, and short and long-term goals. In this article we discover why Vision is so important and learn how to distinguish it from another fundamental concept: Mission.
The Vision, a glimpse into the future
If Henry Ford’s Vision had not been “Horses will have to disappear from our roads,” who knows, perhaps the future of the automobile would have been different.
The Vision of a business is the projection of a future scenario that expresses the values, ideals and aspirations of the company. It is the “dream” it aims for, what it aspires to achieve and become in the long term. Therefore, it undoubtedly contains a very strong emotional component.
This concept is not only about the internal sphere of a business, but it goes beyond that. It has a lot to do with the impact that business will one day have in the world or in its Community. Without looking outward, the Vision would lose its meaning. And precisely because it is about the future, it needs continued and generational effort to be realised.
Sometimes there is a tendency to underestimate Corporate Vision, believing it to be a superfluous or overly abstract thought. Instead, it is incredibly important! Defining it means outlining the ultimate purpose of the business, the ambitious motive that drives us to do what we do every day. In order to be able to achieve short-term goals, one must always have in mind the larger, long-term goal that spurs the whole business forward. Without a clear Vision, the risk is to concentrate on managing a thousand daily activities while losing sight of the ultimate goal for which they are all building towards in some way.
Having defined the Vision, it will be easier to define everything else as well, from one’s business model, to growth strategy, to short and long-term goals.
Vision and Mission: different but complementary
If Vision represents the aspiration to make the world a better place, how can we help make it a reality with our business? That’s where the Mission comes in. This is the much more concrete path that we decide is necessary to take in order to achieve the dream, the Vision. The Mission indicates why the company exists and is the rudder for all business activities. The Vision, on the other hand, is the projection of a more general future scenario. Let’s take a look at an example.
This is Apple’s Vision: “My dream is for there to be a computer in every home.”
This, on the other hand, is its Mission: “Apple is committed to providing the best computing experience for students, educators, designers, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs and consumers in more than 140 countries around the world.”
The Mission states the concrete help we want to give to others through our business. Not surprisingly, many Missions contain the words “help,” “support,” “sustain,” “foster.” In general it must be a strong, credible and shareable motive.
Technogym’s Vision is “To be the world’s leading wellness solution provider.”
Its Mission: “To help people feel better through fitness equipment.”
We note that the Vision puts the focus on becoming, while the Mission on what we do today and why we do it. These are two different concepts, but they work simultaneously and complement each other. To achieve the Vision there is a need to set concrete goals that stimulate the person and are achievable through a Mission.
How to define Vision of a business
How, in concrete terms, do we define a Vision? Creating an ideal image of one’s business projected into the future certainly requires deep introspective work. The Vision will have to be realistic, yes, but it will also have to point upward, toward a distant goal that you dream of reaching. As is often the case, it is easier to find the solution by starting with a series of questions.
What are the values and ideals that my business expresses?
What would I like the world to be like in the future?
How can I contribute to change with my business? What benefits will my community gain?
The world would be a better place if … for example, “Everyone would sort their recycling,” “The gender gap would be closed,” “There would be no waste of any kind.”
By putting these concepts down on paper, it is easier to define a statement, a kind of “motto,” that is simple to understand and catchy at the same time. It would be nice if that statement became a unique and recognisable character of that business. For this to happen, it is important that the Vision, once defined, becomes an integral part of the corporate culture and is shared internally and externally. Since the Vision is based on the company’s values, it will be easier to find aligned customers, suppliers and partners who share the same philosophy. It will also become a powerful tool for internal communication and will help make the team more cohesive as they carry out their activities guided by one common purpose.
What if the business succeeds in making your dream come true? It might be the right time to create a new Vision! Constantly projecting into the future is essential to continue growing, improving and innovating.