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Whenever I do a vision/strategic planning session/workshop for my clients, I insist the owner kick off the meeting by providing the group with their vision for the business.
Whether they already have one or not doesn’t matter. The vision is the essential ingredient for any business to be able to create or refine a strategic plan. Quite simply, your owner vision is as essential to creating your business’ strategic plan as the foundation is to building a house.
In many cases where the owner already has a vision for the business, I find it is either not a vision at all, or a mom-and-apple pie vision that has no real substance to follow or build off of. In some cases it is the core values of the owner, and in others it may be the company’s mission for serving their customers or worse, all three.
I have a clear distinction between what a owner’s vision is versus the company mission. Both statements are important but clearly have very different focuses. In the end, they work together in harmony.
• The vision is inward-focused. It is all about the company and the owner’s personal destination. It is what that company wants to be, and the means for the owner to fulfill their personal dream. The owner and only the owner may create and own the vision. It is not assignable because it is personal.
• The company mission is outward-focused; how it plans to make its customers’ and clients‘ lives better each and every day in its own unique way; which doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be unique, but must still answer the question. The mission could and should be created as a team.
Your vision is the essence of what your business is going to be, not what it is today. I ask the owner to think about several important and thought-provoking questions before they begin writing their vision because it must provide several very serious and specific answers for your team and more importantly for yourself.
When you have it right your vision will simply answer: How good do you want to be at providing what to whom in what geographical area in what general time frame?
• What timeframe will your vision need to be fulfilled? Three to five years is normal, sometimes longer.
• What long-term goal do you have to inspire your team?