How to Create an Inspiring Vision

Here are a few key questions that may help guide you to create a vision that will endure the test of time, fire up your employees, and make it clear to the world what your company stands for:

  • What do we aspire to become, and achieve, as a company?
  • What will the world look like once we’ve won?
  • What impact do we want to make on the world?
  • What is the human value of what our company is doing?
  • What is our higher purpose as a company (that resonates with our team members and customers)?
  • What is the most meaningful thing we could achieve as a company?
  • What do we believe we have a 50% chance of achieving?  30%? 10%?

The key is to ensure that your vision statement clearly describes an imagined future that is different from today, and the way in which it’s different matters to you, your team members, customers and investors. It must be bold enough to demand everyone on the team to work together and perform to their fullest potential. In the words of N. R. Narayana Murthy, founder of Infosys (one of India’s largest and most successful software companies): “You have to create a grand, noble vision which elevates the energy, enthusiasm and self-esteem of everyone in the company while ensuring that everybody sees a benefit in following the vision.” A thoughtful BusinessWeek article described the key elements of an inspiring vision as:

  1. Brevity (so everyone can remember and repeat it)
  2. Specificity (so it’s really clear and you’ll know when you’ve achieved it)
  3. Consistency (i.e., communicating it over and over again –  so people really internalize it)
  4. Emotional Connection (so it matters to the people it’s meant to inspire)

Vision v. Mission

Some people ask about the distinction between the vision and the mission of the company.  The best way I’ve heard it differentiated is this:

“The vision is bigger picture and future-oriented while the mission is more immediately focused on the present…the vision defines the end game and the mission is the roadmap that will take you there.”

Examples of Inspiring Company Visions

I’m often asked for examples of great vision statements, so I’m sharing these in hopes that they may inspire you as you create or refine your company’s vision.

Campbell Soup Company: Nourishing people’s lives, everywhere, every day.

Google: To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Microsoft (initally): A computer on every desk and in every home.

P & G: We will provide branded products and services of superior quality and value that improve the lives of the world’s consumers.

Tiffany & Co.: To enrich the lives of its customers by creating enduring objects of extraordinary beauty that will be cherished for generations.

Hewitt Associates: Making the world a better place to work

Infosys: To be a globally respected software corporation providing best-in-class business solutions employing best-of-breed professionals.

Schwab: To provide the most useful and ethical financial services in the world.

RadioShack: To be the most powerful one-stop shop to connect people with the wonders of modern technology.

Wells Fargo: We want to satisfy all our customers’ financial needs, help them succeed financially, be the premier provider of financial services in every one of our markets, and be known as one of America’s great companies.

Anheuser-Busch: Through all our products, services and relationships, we will add to life’s enjoyment.

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