Inspire and grow with a vivid vision
Almost every company has a mission and vision statement accompanied by a set of values. However, in many companies they fail to make a vivid and tangible vision that truly inspires and aligns the people. Consequently, the vision falls short of its purpose. Creating a visual vision supported by a strong narrative can help companies turning the vision into a powerful tool for growth.
— Strategist & Partner
Definition of vision
There are thousands of definitions of a vision in a business context and most of the revolve around the vision statement. However, I don’t think focussing on a single statement is quite enough today. Instead let’s look at how Oxford Languages defines a vision as “the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom.”
This definition is in my humble opinion precisely what we aim for. Except maybe for the “or” word, which I would replace the an “and”. Creating a vision requires key ingredients: Deep thinking, vivid imagination and wisdom.
So with this definition of vision in mind, let’s get started. When you want to create a strong vision that unites and motivates, it’s a process that shouldn’t be rushed – The vision is meant to last for a long time.
Below I have outlined 7 steps I recommend for the vision process, which should of course be adjusted to some extent to your business. However they serve well as a general guideline.
- Inspiration and insights
- Imagine collaboratively - dream destination
- Create vision board
- Design vision
- Validate with key stakeholders
Inspiration & insights
Building a strong vision requires a deep understanding of your company and surroundings – markets, competitors, partners, technology and most importantly people. Knowing human behavior is key to success. In recent decades, major innovations and technologies have changed our needs, perspectives and expectations, leading to severe changes in behavior. Creating a vision should therefore start with a deep understanding of the current state of affairs.
An inspirational presentation highlighting the endless possibilities out there can function as a great starting point for a collaborative session about the company vision.
Furthermore, inspiration is an essential part.There are key insights and inspiration to be found in e.g. macro-trends, scientific research and akademia, technological and anthropological studies. What are younger generations focusing on, what drives them and how are other companies meeting their demands? Which technologies are growing in maturity and how are they brought into play? How is worklife changing and how do progressive companies reorganise? Inspiration can be found in many things from philosophers, futurists and politicians to scientists, scholars and the young minds of the next generations. Be sure to listen and understand.
Imagine collaboratively (DREAM TEAM)
Defining your strategic vision should be a collaborative effort. Involve your leaders, board members and key influencers in your organisation to make sure you get many perspectives on where your company is heading.
You should share ideas and imagine where you want to be in the future – in three, five, 10 years, or even longer ahead. Which markets will you be in and who are your target audiences, what will the customer experience be like, how will you be organised, what kind of competencies and technologies will come into play and how does that align with your company mission.
The answers to these questions will help you build a vision of where you are going. However, people tend to understand words and discussions differently. Therefore you should try to make your ideas as tangible as possible, which allows you to build mutual understanding and prioritize what you see as key elements in your new company vision.
Creating a vision board
When you have emptied your brains for ideas and your priorities are in place it’s time to make it tangible. In my time as a consultant, I have experienced that visual artefacts are one of the most important tools for aligning expectations.
A good way to moving from idea to visual vision, is to start by creating a vision board. A board in which your key stakeholders find images, videos or create drawings that describe their ideas, best accompanied by a short description and the idea and expected narrative surrounding the visual.
Once your collection of visuals is in place it can facilitate a deeper discussion and understanding of the purpose with each idea. This again can be used to prioritize and find common denominators, which is important when you want to turn your idea into concrete vision.
The vision board will now serve as a guide and inspiration for a strategic design team, when they start consolidating the vision. I recommend that you start creating a strong narrative and key visuals to build a storyboard that explains the vision in a compelling way.
The storyboard can be supported by selected future scenarios, e.g. key user interactions or the employee experience. Make sure to base your strong narrative on solid argumentation ensuring that the vision will not only show where your company is headed, but also why this direction has been chosen. Ultimately, it’s time to boil everything down to a short and sweet vision statement.
A consolidated vision can be built as a high-level storyboard at first, and refined and detailed so you gain input from C-level management and members of your vision project team. Now your vision has come alive and it’s time to produce the formats that ensure efficient communication across different channels.
Validate with key stakeholders
Your vision is almost ready. However, testing the reaction to your vision in a controlled environment may give you valuable insights on how it is understood and allows you to anticipate the reaction from stakeholders both internally and externally.
We recommend setting up interviews with a few selected members of your target audience and employees to ensure the best foundation for planning your rollout and communication.
Using all the input from your validation process, you should now start planning your communication and rollout in detail. The vision shows where you’re going, but not how to get there. This leaves room for questions and uncertainty. Therefore you should consider how to communicate changes this new vision will bring. Change management is key to success in the years to come, and the rollout serves as a unifying focal point.
Therefore C-level management should take an active part in presenting the new vision to the company. Make sure to have a crisp presentation for an elaborate explanation, but also a short version that can be dispersed across the organization pre- or post a launch event.
Furthermore, we recommend that you develop a short video that inspires and summarizes your vision in a minute or two. This will help distribute your vision in a format that will not be subject to changes and interpretation before it’s communicated to your audience.
The communication plan should draw up a continuous effort that will keep the vision in the minds of everyone involved for the months and years ahead.
Finally your vision has been brought to life. Now it is time for managers at all levels to strategize and create effective tactics. Using the vision as a focal point in the future, what will it take to get there? How will you prepare and execute in the best possible way? And what will be the objectives, goals and milestones in the process?
In our experience a vision can be unfolded in a thousand different ways. Some opt for product visions, prototyping and conceptual design to add another layer of detail before executing the strategy. Other companies jump straight into development of new business concepts or adjusting their customer experience. And some gear up and reorganise to install the right culture before they begin their journey.
Whatever approach you prefer. Make sure to actively align vision, strategy and execution both on short and long term across the entire organisation.
To sum up your vision should be more than a statement. Make sure to include your board, managers, employees and even clients and external stakeholders to gain as much perspective as possible. Using visual artefacts, concepts and a strong narrative will help you turn thoughts into something tangible, hence giving a much clearer sense of direction – a guiding star, which can be used to unite and inspire your organisation, while at the same time laying the foundation for succes both on short term and the years ahead.
Strategist & Partner