Vision & Values – FAQ

  • A “vision” is very simply a description of what success will look like.
  • A “vision” can be a simple statement or several paragraphs but a compelling vision, as eloquently articulated by Jim Collin and Jerry Poras in “Built To Last”, is often broken into two main components – Core Ideology or your philosophical approach to purpose and conduct and an Envisioned Future including a BHAG and Vivid Description. The Big Hairy Audacious Goal is the organizational target long into the future – say 10 to 30 or more years. The Vivid Description captures the key elements of what success would look like for those internal and external to the organization.
  • A “vision” ought to guide, challenge and inspire the organization … towards the BHAG and the fulfillment of the organization’s purpose.
  • A Mission is closer to an explicit assignment or task directly linked to the specific business and organization.
  • A Mission Statement answers the question of “What business are we in?” while the Vision deals with the future experience of defined “success”. Some would argue that the Mission is closer to the Core Purpose and through that description, a Mission would outline a higher duty.
  • The Core Purpose answers the question: “Why does our organization exist?” and is typically broad and fundamental rather than specific to the existing business or products.
  • A compelling vision can be inspirational over the short and long term and through both good and tough times.
  • A vision can make sense of the “what’s” and “why’s” for everyone in the organization.
  • A shared vision can be a strategic advantage since the entire organization will be committed and motivated toward the same image of “success”. This shared vision can guide and align the daily activities of an organization over the long term regardless of changes in leadership.
  • The existence of a vision may impact shorter term strategic choices and may lead to greater stability when leadership changes or is weak.
  • Many prospective hires may use “vision” (and values) as a criterion for their employer of choice.
  • Potential financial and strategic partners may also consider the presence of an actual “vision” in decisions to support an organization.
  • There is no guarantee of success with or without a vision. Nevertheless, “success” – however defined, is more likely with a game plan than without.
  • The existence of a vision may impact shorter term strategic choices and may lead to greater stability when leadership changes or is weak.
  • As the saying and song goes, if you don’t have a dream, how will you know if it ever comes true?
  • Some individuals, leaders and organizations come by their visions almost through epiphanies while others go through a series of exercises to determine their vision of success.
  • Books and group workshops are great places to start and complete the articulation of your vision. Typically, examples of visionary companies are provided along with a list of thought and discussion-provoking questions to guide you through the process.
  • Honesty throughout the process is critical as is the concept of a shared vision.
  • A powerful vision is much more than a statement; it’s a foundation for planning, priorities and behaviour which is ideally generated through group interaction, discussion and agreement.
  • There is significant value in the vision development exercise as many assumptions, misunderstandings and different perspectives will be aired, shared, debated and incorporated.
  • The value of the vision output is greatly enhanced through solid communication and dialogue throughout the organization. Ultimately, long term tangible value will only be created if leaders embrace and live the vision through their actions. This means incorporating the vision into individual and group behaviour, policies, strategic objectives, operational planning, hiring etc.
  • You will be at a distinct disadvantage if your competitors have and embrace their own vision since they will be more creative, motivated and aligned toward one vision of success.
  • In the process of satisfying short term goals, your organization may make significant strategic errors.
  • You may risk the loss of key employees who want to work for and with organizations that truly understand their purpose and plans.
  • Lending institutions may deem your organization to be a higher financial risk if you can’t bother to take the time to set the organization up with the best chance of long term success.
  • You fail – having not done everything possible to achieve success.
  • You achieve short term gains but have no sense of real and meaningful “success”.
  • You achieve some measure of success according to others but you are left feeling empty due to the manner in which you achieved the goal.
  • One-on-one discussions to understand the root cause of the resistance is a good place to start.
  • Often “live” examples of comparative organizations with and without “visions” can sway individuals.
  • Asking for a leap of faith for the initial stages of the process and then checking in with them early on can mitigate resistance and win them over.
  • Drawing analogies with other planning and communication processes within their organization or department can help.
  • Connecting the skeptics with other organizations who have undertaken such an exercise is sometimes useful.
  • Requesting a commitment to the process with specific responsibilities for those individuals may work.
  • Values are a somewhat nebulous term often misunderstood or worse, assumed.
  • Core values are meant to describe those believes, principles, morals and basic ways of life that are fundamental, enduring and unwavering – period.
  • If values are assumed, organizations may start exhibiting inconsistent and undesirable behaviour that damages the culture, reputation, productivity and success of the entity.
  • Discussing and documenting core values facilitates cohesion and can then guide behaviour as the organization strives to achieve goals over time.
  • Even if individuals within an organization agree on a value such as integrity, the meaning of the value to each may be slightly different. If left unexplored, differences can lead to discord.
  • Unfortunately, yes. Values represent the way in which you achieve success – how you operate, treat each other, partners, suppliers etc. They represent what’s important along the way and in some cases, organizations simply don’t care about the how, the people, the costs or the damage; they simply want the result in any way possible.
  • Some organizations will never pay the piper so to speak while others will earn a nasty reputation as people churners or a lousy client, which increases turnover and recruitment costs and reduces supplier or partner options over time.
  • Ideally, the team member and the organization share values and simply differ on either the description of the value or which ones are deemed to be important versus “core”. Discussions – either one-on-one or facilitated could lead to a harmonious solution.
  • If there are fundamental differences on core values such as integrity, respect, or even entrepreneurial drive that will impact the team member’s ability to contribute or negatively influence others, then the best option is to part ways. The damage done to plans, productivity, relationships, trust, credibility and culture far outweigh the short term pain of replacing that individual.