How to create a vision statement for change

7 August, 2019
Vision statement

Principles to align values and beliefs to your organisation’s future

Periods of organisational change can be unsettling for employees. Change asks people to leave their comfort zones and do things differently, perhaps to look at the world differently. Change creates uncertainty, and uncertainty causes anxiety and resistance. John Kotter, often referred to as the ultimate authority on change management, rightly determined that vision was crucial to the success of change for three reasons:

  • It simplifies the detailed decisions that must be made
  • It provides direction and motivation
  • It helps to coordinate actions and encourages collaboration

A vision statement is crucial in change projects. The question is, how do you compose a vision statement?


What is a vision statement?

A vision statement is a view of the future. It provides a summary of the aspirations of the organisation. Its job is to share a common and shared big-picture objective, and inspire employees to engage in the work that moves the organisation toward that objective. A strong vision statement will not only inspire your current employees, it will also motivate talented individuals to join you.


Know what you want your vision statement to accomplish

A vision statement isn’t a pie-in-the-sky, throwaway comment. It should be a key part of an organisation’s meaning for existence and an integral piece of strategic thinking. It is not set in stone either. It is a living thing, which will inevitably adapt to changing needs and market environment. Above all else, your vision statement must call your employees to action. It must be believable and reflect shared values.


How do you develop a vision statement?

There are many methods that could be used to develop a vision statement, but all are guided by the same set of principles. These are that your vision statement should be:

  • Concise, easy to understand and memorable
  • Clear, focusing on a single objective and written in accessible language
  • Future-oriented, describing where the organisation wants to be, not where it is now
  • Challenging, with realistic but stretching aims
  • The big picture, capturing strategic direction
  • Inspiring, setting objectives that align with the values and beliefs of the organisation and its employees


Where do you start?

A vision statement should be developed to align with your organisation’s culture and created for your employees (and other stakeholders). You should first identify your organisation’s aspirations and how you can differentiate from your competitors.

Good vision statements encompass the values, beliefs, goals and purpose of an organisation’s employees. Thus, good vision statements are born from gaining insight from internal conversations, helping engage employees in a shared vision that they have helped to create. This provides employees with a sense of ownership of the vision and motivation to strive to achieve the ambition of the vision.

By connecting your organisation’s aspirations with the insight gained from your employees and other stakeholders, you have the basis to create your big picture – the vision statement that describes where you and your employees are heading.

Finally, when writing your vision statement, avoid being generic. Approach this as you would when writing a mission statement. Ensure that it is specific to your organisation, employees, customers and other suppliers. Ensure it oozes passion and has a big, bold aspiration.


How to use a vision statement

When making largescale change, success depends upon creating a direction in which everyone can move together. This is provided by the vision of the future state. It is this future state to which change plans and change management will take the organisation.

Change management encompasses change strategy, plans, and budget. These exist because of vision. During times of organisational change, your vision statement should be the reason your employees and teams do what they do every day: a reminder that all efforts are focused on achieving the big picture.

Leaders and managers play a critical role in the constant communication of vision. In our next article, we examine how leaders communicate company vision.

To learn how the Learning Map could help you to improve your organisation’s effectiveness in organisational change management, get in touch with The Big Picture People today.

(To see how putting people in the picture creates a shared vision and helps set a concrete destination, read this case study.)

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