BAodn Blog: Demystifying the Development of An Organizational Vision
By Milano School alumna Erin Kenney
A vision is more than just a mission statement, says Mark Lipton. In
this brief article, a clear preamble to his 2003 book Guiding Growth, Lipton makes a strong argument that
companies and organizations that manage using a positive vision can have powerful results.
A vision can help employees understand what an organization stands for and what is expected of them. But
having a vision is not enough, Lipton found. The key is effectively communicating that vision through the
organization. With this tool, a vision can help “keep decision making in context”. In a fast paced consumer
world, having that long-term view presents a road map to wanted outcomes. As Lipton puts it, a clearly
understood vision creates a compass.
But what exactly is a vision statement? Lipton’s formula is simply stated: Vision = Mission + Strategy +
Culture. This is the organization’s purpose, how that purpose will be achieved and the values presented in
the everyday attitudes of the organization. Lipton’s article walks through what a great vision can do for a
company (with inspiring examples) and why and how a vision can fail.
I’ve turned to Mr. Lipton’s articles and books about vision constantly since I was introduced to his theory
in graduate school. I have found that keeping the vision present in tough conversations leads to a dramatic
shift - a positive shift - in decision making. To simplify it drastically, having a vision is like the common
saying about keeping an eye keenly on a goal - the obstacles tend to evaporate and the path to achieving
those goals become clear.
To be honest, I’m a devout optimist and I love thinking about a bright, happy, better future, which is why
the vision theory is so appealing to me. How about those self proclaimed pessimists out there? Do you
think a vision statement is right for every organization? Download the article: http://url.ie/883s
Erin Kenney holds a master's degree in Nonprofit Management and a post-master's certificate in
Organizational Development from Milano The New School of Management in New York City. She
currently is a freelance organizational consultant working on projects in the Bay Area.