Business transformation continues to be a topic on the minds of business leaders in some way, shape, or form. With economic, technology, and human capital headwinds impacting most industries, the need for organizational resilience has never been more important. As organizations prepare for strategic transformation, they should first align themselves to an actionable and achievable vision. In this piece, we outline the considerations for developing a vision statement with Clarkston’s Enterprise Destination Mapping methodology. This piece is the first in a series of blog posts outlining each of the elements of our EDM methodology and considerations for addressing each level. Today, we are going to focus on the Vision.
Vision Statements vs. Mission Statements
A common pitfall in driving clear direction for transformation initiatives is that organizations may not understand the difference between a mission statement and a vision statement. A mission statement should define an organization’s purpose and explain “how” an organization can achieve its stated objectives. It should answer questions such as “What do we do?” and “What makes us unique?” Let’s use Starbucks as an example:
Starbucks Mission Statement: “To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.”
A vision statement provides direction on “where” an organization wants to be. An excellent company vision clearly defines target customers, aligns with differentiated value propositions, and sets a clear path to shape company strategy at every level. The Vision statement should answer important questions such as: “What do we need to be in one, three, and five years out to maximize value creation and capture?” and “If we had no constraints and were five times bolder than we are today…. what would the future look like when we have successfully made this shift?”
Starbucks Vision Statement: “To establish Starbucks as the premier purveyor of the finest coffee in the world while maintaining our uncompromising principles while we grow.”
While Starbucks’ mission statement defines their purpose, the vision statement sets the stage for where they want to be in the future so everyone in the organization can be aligned on how they support growth.
Leveraging Enterprise Destination Mapping to Craft a Vision Statement
Our Enterprise Destination Mapping (EDM) methodology is a framework that articulates an organization’s ambition using strategic imperatives, supporting pillars, and specific steps to drive a transformation. Enterprise Destination Mapping aligns the change process with strategic intent by developing a vision and guiding principles, followed by goals, metrics, and specific tactics to create a roadmap. Our EDM methodology helps to define a company’s vision in a way that holds the organization accountable and jumpstarts business transformation.
Developing a Vision Statement
As outlined in our EDM methodology, a vision statement is the first step in guiding organizations toward building their strategic goals and objectives. Below, we outline steps companies can take to develop a vision statement:
1. Solicit Inputs and Perspectives from a Cross-Functional Executive Team
To set the foundation for a vision statement, typically the senior leadership team forms a hypothesis that directionally explains key elements of the vision. This hypothesis can then be reviewed with a broader set of stakeholders for their buy-in and input for what the vision should – and as importantly, should not – be. By involving a cross-functional team from the beginning, there’s greater likelihood of ownership that will take place throughout the transformation process. Once the key stakeholders have been identified, it’s best to engage them in a series of engaging discussions where key decisions are made around where they want the organization to be in three to five years. This will serve as the baseline for crafting a vision statement that is descriptive and actionable toward the future ambition.
2. Develop an Actionable and Tangible Vision Statement
Aggregate all perspectives from discussions with executive, management, and front-line employees to evaluate what activities are incremental versus transformational. This exercise will ensure that the vision is both aspirational and grounded in operational realities. If a vision is too aspirational, it will be difficult to maintain alignment across the organization in knowing whether their execution is on the right track. Balancing aspiration with prescriptive, action-oriented statements, such as identifying core activities or themes, will ensure mutual understanding of the value that can be created. Every word of the vision statement should be carefully validated to confirm it will be sustained as the organization grows over time.
3. Socialize the Vision Statement
Once the vision has been curated, it’s important to pressure test and socialize the vision with key stakeholders. These stakeholders should include the executive team as well as any key change agents who represent pockets of the organization and will be involved in executing the vision. This step of socialization is important to form a well-rounded perspective on whether the vision will resonate with all impacted parties. Methods to refine the vision could include focus groups, town halls, and/or department-level meetings. Involving people from all levels in the organization in this review process will drum up excitement and buy-in for the upcoming transformation so that there’s a sense of pride and ownership in the change process. Finally, be sure to think about the vision from all angles, both internal and external – such as investors, competitors, suppliers, partners, or other global offices.
4. Gain Buy-in on Vision
Once the vision has been refined, be sure to gain buy-in on the statement from executive sponsors who will ultimately own the outcomes of the business transformation. Having executives formally and genuinely endorse the vision will create a foundation for the next steps of the EDM process, including generating guiding principles and goals tied to the vision.
A clear strategic vision is critical to set the foundation for the guiding principles and goal setting that inform a business transformation. In our next post, we will be discussing how to develop guiding principles to serve as guardrails when undergoing change.
Regardless of your transformation challenge – whether an operating model change, M&A activity, corporate restructuring, or otherwise – our EDM methodology is designed to guide your organization through a period of transition. Stay tuned for more perspectives as we continue this series through each level of our methodology.
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