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1/20/2004
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SmartAdvice: Craft Vision Statement So It Motivates And Leads

Vision statements must reflect the organization and involve everyone, so make them simple and achievable, The Advisory Council says. Plus, consider your company's needs for archiving and what's already in use when choosing business-messaging systems, and staying up-to-date on security patches will help keep Windows NT-family operating systems safe.

Editor's Note: Welcome to SmartAdvice, a weekly column by The Advisory Council (TAC), an advisory service firm. The feature answers three questions of core interest to you, ranging from career advice to enterprise strategies to how to deal with vendors. Submit questions directly to smartadvice@tacadvisory.com


Topic A: After the extended economic downturn, we need to create a new vision for the organization. How do we do that?

Our advice: An organization's vision should communicate what the organization wants to be, to both internal and external audiences.

A vision is a statement of self-worth. Its purpose is not only to motivate employees to take meaningful action, but to give leadership a standard for monitoring progress. It also tells external audiences how your organization wishes to be viewed.

A successful vision is dependent upon:

  • The vision process
  • Content
  • Communications
  • Monitoring

Here are some things to consider about each step:

Vision-Development Process

  • Let the business drive the vision.


  • Involve all stakeholders in its development; otherwise, they won't consider it theirs.


  • Assign responsibility so that it's clear how each person, including each stakeholder, can contribute.


  • Seek expert facilitation to reach a vision supported by all.


  • Revise and reiterate; you'll likely go through multiple iterations before you're satisfied.

Content

  • Start from where you are to get to where you want to go.


  • Build in the values of the organization: Every organization has a soul. Tap into yours, and adjust as needed. A vision built on your values will not just hold promise but also deliver on it.


  • Build on the core competencies of the organization: A vision is useless if it can't be put into operation. This requires recognition of your organization's strengths and weaknesses.


  • Factor in your style: A vision must reflect the leader's style. You can't sustain action that goes against it.


  • Make it visual: A picture is worth a thousand words.


  • Make it simple to understand: Complex language and disconnected statements have little impact--people can't implement what they don't understand.


  • Make it achievable: A vision is an organization's dream for the future. Unachievable goals discourage people.


  • Phase it in: Reach for the sky--in stages.


  • Make it actionable: If it's too abstract, no one knows what to do next.
Communications

  • Communicate often: Internal communications are the key to success. People need to see the vision, identify with it, and know that leadership is serious about it.


  • Create messages that relate to the audience: To adopt a vision, people must see how they can achieve it, and what's in it for them.


  • Create messages that inspire action: It's not what you say, but how you say it.

Monitoring

  • Identify key milestones: While traveling to your destination, acknowledge the milestones along the way.


  • Monitor your progress: A strategic audit, combined with key metrics, can be used to measure progress against goals and objectives.


  • Use external audit team: An external team brings objectivity, plus a fresh perspective.

The timing is right for a new vision, one that will reinvigorate and imbue optimism in your organization. But remember, no matter how idealistic it is, it also must be realistic.

-- Sourabh Hajela

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