There is likely nothing more deserving of criticism in businesses than most Company Vision Statements – if they have one at all.
Perhaps a founder jotted a few words down as part of a one-page business plan or a slick marketing agent sold an owner on the concept with a lot of energy during a month-long consulting gig. The typical result is the same; they became some words that didn’t see the light of day and were quickly forgotten.
Yet many of the best-known, most-proven management consultants, business coaches, and business leaders see a company’s Vision Statement (along with the company’s Core Values) as one of the key pillars of all companies. How can this be?
Business coaching experiences that reiterate two fundamental reasons that a company’s Vision Statement can be either worthless or priceless:
- The statement never hit the mark on identifying something truly meaningful to the company’s leaders. If the goal is to complete a business plan, there is a tendency to create something decent and then just move on. When a business founder wants to describe how they are going to put a dent in the universe, that requires a different level of effort and attention.
- Even if all the right words are used, the Company Vision must be circulated and used as a guidepost for making consistent decisions. If not, it will never develop the force or energy necessary to weather the inevitable storms of growing a business. Visionary storytelling may sound like a soft skill, but the ability to articulate a compelling vision to stakeholders is what increasingly separates the winners and losers. Crafting such a story should be a core skill of today’s CEOs with five or more employees.
Examples from Business Coaching When a Company Vision Helps (and When It Doesn’t)
Company A has a well-utilised and adopted vision and Company B doesn’t. The recent lockdown in Victoria, Australia caused both companies to take hits from a revenue recognition standpoint, as projects were halted with people not being able to be present at job sites. I have business coaching and management meetings with both companies on a weekly basis, though Company B is just starting out as a new client.
I started both management meetings with the acknowledgment of likely issues arising due to the lockdowns. It was also suggested that we spend five minutes reviewing ‘why’ we are doing this in the first place – that is, why the company exists. We reviewed the Vision, Mission, and Core Purpose, asking individuals to share their thoughts and observations. Company A’s people quickly identified compelling reasons for attacking the upcoming Covid lockdown issues, and we spent the remainder of the 90-minute meeting breaking down the key challenges into practical action items. Company B struggled to find meaning, and we spent much of the meeting discussing topics around mental wellbeing. These two meetings were a real-life example of Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities. I have no doubt Company B will identify a compelling future; it will simply take some focused effort to get their foundation right.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, it took me a while to be a believer in the value of a strong Company Vision. There are far too many empty and invisible Vision Statements compared to those that actually energise entire teams. Drop us a line if you’d like some real-life examples or to talk through your own.
I like doing things on my own as often as possible, but this happens to be a body of work that yields better results when working with people who have tamed these difficult waters multiple times before.
Regardless of your strategy, we hope the experiences described in this article spur you to revisit your Company Vision Statement and breathe some more life into it, regardless of its current level. Covid is likely going to challenge our businesses in ways we haven’t fully prepared for, and a strong ‘Why’ can certainly help make the journey a more confident one.
Better Execute is a Business Coaching and Management Consulting Company focused on helping business leaders with 5-50 employees gain more control over their businesses. Better Execute’s motto is Better Business = Better Life and Better Business comes from Better Execution.