5 Components and 4 Criteria of an Effective Strategic Vision Statement

effective strategic vision looking over the city

An Effective Strategic Vision Matters
According to research in Harvard Business Review of tens of thousands of working people around the world, effectively enlisting the hearts and minds of your organization in a shared vision of the future differentiates leaders from non-leaders.  In short, companies without an effective strategic vision struggle to provide a meaningful context for their mission, goals, strategies and implementation plans.

Strategic Clarity Matters
The lack of a clear strategic vision can hamper short-term performance and long-term organizational health. Effective strategies provide crystal clear reasoning why the company, function or team does what it does and how specific actions should lead to superior outcomes in the future.

Our organizational alignment research found that strategic clarity accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performing organizations in terms of revenue, profitability, customer satisfaction and employee engagement.

Strategic Vision Defined
We define Strategic Vision as “What the organization hopes to become…the business you will be in tomorrow.”  There are a few common paths to creating a strategic vision.

  • 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.

Five Attributes of an Effective Strategic Vision Statement
While there is no perfect formula, based upon over 25 years of strategic clarity facilitation with high growth companies, here are five key components of an effective Strategic Vision statement to consider.

1.  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.  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.  Motivating and Memorable
What notable and emotionally connecting future direction do you want to keep reaching and pushing toward?

4.  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.  Unique
Can you substitute your strategic vision statement for others inside or outside your industry? If you can, it needs some more work.

Four Criteria of an Effective Strategic Vision Statement
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 truly remember or embrace it.

2.  Believable Enough?
People must believe in where you are headed. The long-term vision can’t be deemed as unattainable or inauthentic.

3.  Achievable?
While the vision should be a stretch, it must be perceived to be possible over time 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.

The Bottom Line
To lead people into a bigger and better future, provide an inspiring, motivating, challenging, memorable, and unique picture of where the business is headed.  The best leaders engage their employees in the process of creating a shared vision of success.  Is your vision believable, achievable and relevant enough to engage your organization?

To learn more about creating a clear and compelling strategy to get to the next level, download 7 Different Ways to Stress Test Your Strategy

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