As 2020 commences I can’t help but recognize that the year’s numerals are typically equated to perfect vision as in 20/20 vision. But it’s a misnomer that 20/20 is perfect vision. In fact, it only means that you can see with clarity at that distance.
The American Optometric Association puts it this way:
“20/20 vision is a term used to express normal visual acuity (the clarity or sharpness of vision) measured at a distance of 20 feet. If you have 20/20 vision, you can see clearly at 20 feet what should normally be seen at that distance. If you have 20/100 vision, it means that you must be as close as 20 feet to see what a person with normal vision can see at 100 feet.
Having 20/20 vision does not necessarily mean you have perfect vision. 20/20 vision only indicates the sharpness or clarity of vision at a distance. Other important vision skills, including peripheral awareness or side vision, eye coordination, depth perception, focusing ability and color vision, contribute to your overall visual ability.” link
So, when talking about our ability to see visually we measure against what a person should be able to see, yet in marketing, a vision is often a statement about what we “want to see”. In other words, it’s a plan or a goal. Having a perfect vision is NOT a misnomer.
What is a Vision Statement?
A vision statement is a written declaration of an organization’s objectives, intended to guide its internal decision-making and provide high level directional guidance. A vision statement describes where the company aspires to be upon achieving its mission. A good vision statement usually reveals where the company seeks to be, on the other hand, a great vision statement describes where the company wants a community, or the world, to be as a result of the company’s products and services.
What is the Purpose of a Vision Statement?
Both Mission and vision statements are signposts.
Effective mission and vision statements will unify the focus of an organization – both for the organization and its target audience.
Whether you’re a massive corporation or a solopreneur, you can use mission and vision statements to gain clarity and ensure that you consistently make decisions in line with your ultimate goals.
What is the Difference Between a Mission and a Vision Statement?
The vision statement focuses on the future and what the organization wants the world to become of its efforts. While the mission statement focuses on today and what the organization currently does. Some companies use the mission and vision statements interchangeably, but it’s important to have both as they serve distinct purposes. One really doesn’t work without the other, because having purpose and meaning are critical for any business.
As mentioned, the difference between a vision and mission statement is the timeline, although there can be some overlap between the two. In general, a mission statement defines what an organization is currently doing, while a vision statement is basically the ultimate goal of what they’d like to accomplish. So, the mission is what people do in order to achieve the vision. So the mission statement is “how” versus the vision statement is “why”.
Why a Vision Statement is Important
Because a vision statement is used to direct overall strategic goals for a company, the statements tend not to change very often. (See “Be Consistent” below) Each time a goal is achieved it’s another step on the path toward achieving the overall vision of the company. Vision statements should be written in the present tense but still serve the future of the organization. When a vision statement can be read in the present tense and be accurate, an organization will know that their vision is being achieved.
As mentioned above, both the mission and vision statements are signposts. These are used to guide people. Not every person in the organization can understand what the organization’s goals and vision are without this important method of communicating direction, intent, and purpose. If you want everyone surrounding an organization to have clear directions, both the mission and vision statements will accomplish this.
Most importantly, the vision communicates the “why”. Knowing how is important, but people want to have a purpose in the things that they do, this means that communicating the “why” is the most important of the two.
How to Create a GREAT Mission Statement:
- Be Directional: Remember this is a signpost: It serves as a guide to organizational plans and strategies.
- Be Concise: This is not the place for fluff statements. It should be simple, easy to read and cut to the basics, it should be easy to set to memory and be repeated accurately.
- Be Specific: Clear and focused enough to shape decision-making.
- Be Future Focused: Provides the “big picture” and clearly describes what your organization (or better yet what the world) will be like if your organization succeeds.
- Be Consistent: The vision statement is a long-term goal that should, ideally, not be affected by changes in the economy or the world.
- Be Unique and Memorable: Highlights what makes the organization different and why it matters, memorable strongly refers to the former: be concise.
- Be Challenging: It should inspire members of the organization and it’ customers to do great things and achieve a higher level.
- Be Values-Based: It should be representative of the values that are central and important to the organization.
- Be Inspiring: create something that will rally the troops and be desirable as a goal for all those involved with the organization and further something that engages people to commit to a cause.
Examples of Great Vision Statements:
- Alzheimer’s Association: A world without Alzheimer’s disease.
- Teach for America: One day, all children in this nation will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education.
- Creative Commons: Realizing the full potential of the internet — universal access to research and education, full participation in culture — to drive a new era of development, growth, and productivity.
- Microsoft (at its founding): A computer on every desk and in every home.
- IKEA “Our vision is to create a better everyday life for many people.”
- Nike “Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world.”
Get Started on Creating Your Vision Statement
OK, let’s get a cliché for a moment: Just Do it, there’s no time like the present, and every journey starts with the first step. If you’ve read this far then you know why you should have a vision statement, you even know how to create one. The only thing left is to start the process. It should be a collective effort, however. Even if you’re a solopreneur you should involve others in the process of creating your vision statement. Run it past someone else. If you’re an organization of many, then you should involve even more people in the process. You’ll be surprised as a leader how much better you can communicate your vision if you simply put in a signpost or two for others to see. There simply is no better way. So what’s your vision?
Authorship: Ken K.