How to articulate a vision for your organisation

1. Put vision in context
In Leaders, Warren Bennis and Bert Nanus defined it as “A mental image of possible and desirable state of the organisation… view of the realistic, credible, attractive future for the organisation, condition that’s better in some important ways than what now exists.”
2. Understand the contributing factors
In Built to Last: Successful Habits for Visionary Companies, Collins and Porras stressed three components:
* The core rules — the three to five guiding principles important to firm
* The core purpose — your reason for being
* The desired future (or mission) — clear statement that distinguishes your organisation from others, catalyst for team spirit.
3. Isolate core values
Only few values are ‘core’ — those that define what you stand for. Ask credible people in your organisation the following:
* If you were starting anew, what core values would you build into it?
* If you won Lotto and retired, what core values would you keep?
* What do you tell your children are the core values at work that you hope they’ll hold when they’re working adults?
4. Identify the core purpose
This captures the soul of the company — why it exists. Walt Disney’s core value is “to make people happy”. 3M’s is “To solve unsolved problems innovatively”. These differ from goals because purposes will never be totally fulfilled.
5. Picture desired future — your mission
This will become the catalyst for team spirit and inspiration. But it must be visible, vivid and real. It must communicate unrealised dreams, aspirations, and drive momentum. Ask someone: “Imagine sitting here in 20 years’ time. What would we love to see? What would the organisation look like?”
6. Now articulate the vision
Paint the big picture with words.
Sony’s clear vision has inspired the firm for decades now. In the 1950s it said: “Fifty years from now our brand name will be as well known as any in the world… and will signify innovation and quality that rivals the most innovative companies anywhere. Made in Japan will mean something fine, not something shoddy.”

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