Vision: It's Not Always About You

By Tony Tiernan

Why are so many corporate vision statements anything but visionary? Maybe it’s because so many of them are self-regarding. They describe a business ambition, not a vision.

That matters, because your organization’s vision is one of the foundations for its brand.

Research shows that two out of every three people now choose, switch, avoid or boycott a brand based on its stand on societal issues (2018 Edelman Earned Brand Survey). That belief-driven mindset is now mainstream around the world, and spans all ages and income levels.

In other words, most of the people your organization is trying to attract and retain, whether clients or talented recruits, are looking for meaning. Traditional vision statements that use formulas like “we want to be the best/most admired/number one in our field” or “we want to be the firm of choice for the world’s most ambitious/innovative/demanding clients”, don’t mean much.

We urge our clients instead to define Vision differently: as the better world that the firm hopes to bring about through its business efforts. It must describe a clear benefit, be inspirational and imaginative, and speak to all stakeholders. Society is a stakeholder.

Mission is what the firm dedicates itself to achieving through its work in order to realize the vision. Put the two together and you have the beginnings of a meaningful organization and a brand that speaks to today’s clients and recruits.

How well does your vision measure up?

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