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Business Unplugged™
This blog features Carol Roth's tough love on business and entrepreneurship, as well as insights from Carol's community of contributors.

Vision Statement: Why Every Company Needs One

Written By: Mark E. Goodman | Comments Off on Vision Statement: Why Every Company Needs One

creating vision statement Developing content for a new website? Trying to determine if a customer or prospect is a good fit for your business? Recruiting that next superstar employee? Hoping to motivate a recalcitrant supplier or vendor to go above and beyond?  

Use your company’s vision statement as a foundation. Don’t have a vision? You probably should!  But you may say to me, “Mark, I’m busy running my business!  I don’t have time for strategy discussions.  Besides, I know what I want to do.”

But do you? Really?

How does a having a clear vision impact your various stakeholders? Let’s look at three different vision statements. Think about how they might influence you as a leader, employee, customer or supplier.

As an example, in my days at Motorola, we had “What you never thought possible” and then “Intelligence Everywhere.”  The vision after that, whether articulated or not, was “Maximize shareholder value.”

  • As a leader, how would you behave if you were tasked to achieve what you never thought possible? Yes, you might fail – but if you succeeded – wow! “Intelligence Everywhere” suggests being smart, but how much of a chance would you be willing to take? And “Maximize shareholder value” seems like a recipe for short-term profitability without consideration for long-term goals.
  • As an employee, who would you want to work for? How would the different visions impact your salary negotiations? What kind of long-term commitment would you be willing to make?
  • As  a customer, the vision, may or may not make much of a difference. A customer has a need.  Can you execute at the appropriate price? But, customers are people, too. They would prefer to do business with those who share their vision. If profitability is key to your customer, one vision may resonate. If that customer is looking to grow and expand beyond their traditional base, maybe another vision will be the differentiator.
  • As a supplier or vendor, if you want me to create content, your vision helps me craft the story.  If profitability is key to your vision, the signal to me is that my price will be the most important consideration.  More than anything, if I am in tune with your vision, I am more likely to be successful working with you.

Creating a vision and mission is not a new concept.  Kenny Hirschhorn, a noted futurist, utilized a system that he called V-M-G-O-S-T-E-M.  Vision, Mission, Goal, Objective, Strategy, Tactic, Execution, and Measurement. This structure is a bit complex, and possibly more corporate than you may desire.  However, it does provide a process to connect actual execution with the vision and mission.  

Using this process would be difficult on a day-to day-basis, but if you have a decision to make about a product or customer (tactic), you might consider if it is in alignment with your vision and mission. Not sure if the tactic will work and be profitable? Think about how you will execute and measure success.

For example, a software consultancy that focuses on major corporations was offered a pretty cool concept that would allow small businesses (restaurants, car repair, etc.) the ability to use big data. It sounded like a good idea. However, I pointed out that his whole business was aligned with a few larger contracts, not multiple clients placing small orders.

A home remodeler, whose vision was to help you solve your living problems, chose to pass on jobs where he didn’t feel that his knowledge was being appreciated. While prospective customers may have seen the remodeler as a builder, he saw himself as a person who improves the way you and your family lives. Don’t think that’s what you need? Don’t hire him.

The vision of my company,  e-Conversation Solutions, Inc., is to tell the best story of your business. We do this by creating content around your vision, and use the internet to integrate it into your sales, marketing and customer service.  Don’t currently have a vision?  We can help you with that.   

The challenge with creating a vision is aligning it with what your customer is looking for. I was in a meeting with one of my customers and his stakeholders and I articulated my vision and mission, to which my customer noted to others in the room with a smile, “He built our website.”

Later, he said to me, “I pay you for getting things done, not this strategy stuff.” But if all I did was implement, would he have hired me at all?

Trying to explain to an employee why a task is important? You could actually use V-M-G-O-S-T-E-M to tie it back to the vision. It helps put the activity in perspective.  After putting that task in perspective once, encourage the employee to do it themselves next time they are not sure where an assignment fits.

So, I recommend that you understand your vision and take it to heart. It will help guide your decision making, and sometimes even inform and motivate your employees, customers and suppliers. But you still need to provide the goods and services that are expected.  

In the end, it does start with your vision. What is the vision of your business?  How does it help you make decisions?

Article written by
Mark Goodman is the President & CEO of e-Conversation Solutions. He is also past workshop chair at SCORE Chicago. Prior to founding e-Conversation, Mark held numerous positions as a technology executive, including Director of Business Development at Motorola, where he was the first business manager in the cell phone group. In addition to Motorola, Mark was an executive for a Silicon Valley company and a film buyer for General Cinema Theatres. Mark holds an MBA from Boston University and an MA in radio/TV/film from Northwestern University.