How to Develop Vision Statements

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A vision statement is developed by a company as an expression of its ultimate aim as a business enterprise. It is frequently confused with a mission statement, which identifies a company's purpose -- for example, "our purpose is to make quality computers." While a company's core purpose is embodied in its vision statement, the vision statement pushes the purpose further. It is destination-driven and answers the "where do we want to go?" question, embodying the organization's vision of itself in the future.

A vision statement is developed by a company as an expression of its ultimate aim as a business enterprise. It is frequently confused with a mission statement, which identifies a company's purpose -- for example, "our purpose is to make quality computers." While a company's core purpose is embodied in its vision statement, the vision statement pushes the purpose further. It is destination-driven and answers the "where do we want to go?" question, embodying the organization's vision of itself in the future.

Identify the organization's core values and purpose as components to incorporate into the vision statement. The company's core values are the unchanging beliefs and ideals that form the foundation of its conduct and guide the decision-making process. An organization's purpose is the "why" behind its actions. As an example, the purpose of Walt Disney Corp. is to "make people happy." A mission statement focuses on purpose and a vision statement includes both purpose and direction.

Include the company's long-term business objectives in its vision statement. Objectives are measurable targets that can be achieved through specific actions. A vision statement generally encapsulates the organization's long-term view of its market position or desired impact as the fulfillment of a specific need of its target customer. For example, Westin Hotels' vision statement provides that "[y]ear after year, Westin and its people will be regarded as the best and most sought after hotel and resort management group in North America."

Set a time target in your company's vision statement. Time targets might be tied to a strategic plan that can be achieved in three to five years, five to 10 years or even further out. For example, the vision statement of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in 1990 was to "become a $125 billion company by the year 2000." By including a specific time target, the organization created the foundation for a measurable vision statement.

Draft the vision statement as a short, powerful sentence. In 1960, Nike's vision statement was simple: "Crush Adidas." Pithy and concise, Nike's vision statement also illustrates that, once accomplished, the statement can change over time. Microsoft's vision statement is "a personal computer in every home running Microsoft software." This short vision statement might easily be used as a motivator within the organization through strategic placement at the corporate headquarters entrance-way, on letterhead or on internal awards and plaques.

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About the Author

Vanessa Cross has practiced law in Tennessee and lectured as an adjunct professor on law and business topics. She has also contributed as a business writer to news publications, including the "Chicago Tribune," and published in peer-reviewed academic journals. Cross holds a B.A. in journalism, a Juris Doctor and an LL.M. in international business law.

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