5 Components and 4 Criteria of an Effective Strategic Vision

A hand is drawing an upward arrow that begins with vision and ends with success

At the very base of this upward curve is the strategic vision…before the mission, before specific goals, before strategy and before implementation. Only when all these are in alignment, is high performance possible.

We define Strategic Vision as “What the organization hopes to become…the business you will be in tomorrow.” Some executive teams like to start with a clear and compelling Strategic Vision Statement to inspire and align the troops to a bigger and better future. Other leaders prefer to start with the company’s Mission Statement to ground the company with their “organization’s business and fundamental purpose.” Starting with a Strategic Mission Statement allows the team to create a Strategic Vision Statement that clearly articulates the organization’s future state if the Mission were fully accomplished.

Regardless of where you start, a clear vision and mission combined with your corporate values provide the very foundation for strategic success. Without those three strategic drivers, it is difficult to develop annual strategic goals and actions that propel the enterprise forward in an aligned and differentiated manner.

While there is no perfect formula, based upon over 25 years of strategic clarity facilitation, here are five key components of an effective Strategic Vision statement to consider.

5 Components

  1. The Vision Statement needs to be future oriented: What will the organization look like, feel like, think and say in the future? Where is the organization headed? What does your full potential look like?
  2. The Vision Statement needs to be inspiring and challenging: What vivid and energizing image do you want to create for people about your desired outcomes and goals? What is your dream? What mountaintop are you striving to reach? What catalyst will impel the organization to move toward that dream?
  3. The Vision Statement needs to be motivating and memorable: What notable and emotionally connecting future direction do you want to keep reaching and pushing toward?
  4. The Vision Statement needs to be purpose-driven: What is the larger sense of purpose you are striving to obtain? Are you building a cathedral or are you laying stones?
  5. The Vision Statement needs to be unique: Can you substitute your vision statement for others inside or outside your industry? If you can, it needs some more work.

4 Criteria

Once you have crafted a draft Strategic Vision Statement with your key stakeholders, your next step is to evaluate the statement itself using the following four criteria of an effective vision statement:

  1. Short enough? You don’t want a long vision statement, because no one will remember it.
  2. Believable enough? People must believe in where you are headed. The long-term vision can’t be deemed as silly or inauthentic.
  3. Achievable? The vision has to be perceived as possible for it to be a viable strategic driver.
  4. Relevant? And lastly, the vision itself has to matter to all key stakeholders for it to take root.

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