Vision:The vision statement describes our dreams, hopes and ambitions; our most radical conception of ourorganization and community—20, 50, 100 years from today.An aspirational description of what an organization would liketo achieve or accomplish in the mid-term or long-term future. It is intendedto serves as a clear guide for choosing current and future courses of action.Defining VisionOne definition of vision comes from Burt Nanus, a well-known expert on thesubject. Nanus defines a vision as a realistic, credible, attractive future for[an] organization. Lets disect this definition: Realistic: A vision must be based in reality to be meaningful for an organization. For example, if youre developing a vision for a computer software company that has carved out a small niche in the market developing instructional software and has a 1.5 percent share of the computer software market, a vision to overtake Microsoft and dominate the software market is not realistic! Credible: A vision must be believable to be relevant. To whom must a vision be credible? Most importantly, to the employees or members of the organization. If the members of the organization do not find the vision credible, it will not be meaningful or serve a useful purpose. One of the purposes of a vision is to inspire those in the organization to achieve a level of excellence, and to provide purpose and direction for the work of those employees. A vision which is not credible will accomplish neither of these ends. Attractive: If a vision is going to inspire and motivate those in the organization, it must be attractive. People must want to be part of this future thats envisioned for the organization. Future: A vision is not in the present, it is in the future. In this respect, the image of the leader gazing off into the distance to formulate a vision may not be a bad one. A vision is not where you are now, its where you want to be in the future. (If you reach or attain a vision, and its no longer in the future, but in the present, is it still a vision?)Nanus goes on to say that the right vision for an organization, one that isa realistic, credible, attractive future for that organization, can accomplish anumber of things for the organization:
It attracts commitment and energizes people. This is one of theprimary reasons for having a vision for an organization: its motivationaleffect. When people can see that the organization is committed to avision-and that entails more than just having a vision statement-itgenerates enthusiasm about the course the organization intends tofollow, and increases the commitment of people to work towardachieving that vision.It creates meaning in workers lives. A vision allows people to feel likethey are part of a greater whole, and hence provides meaning for theirwork. The right vision will mean something to everyone in theorganization if they can see how what they do contributes to that vision.Consider the difference between the hotel service worker who can onlysay, "I make beds and clean bathrooms," to the one who can also say,"Im part of a team committed to becoming the worldwide leader inproviding quality service to our hotel guests." The work is the same, butthe context and meaning of the work is different.It establishes a standard of excellence. A vision serves a veryimportant function in establishing a standard of excellence. In fact, agood vision is all about excellence. Tom Peters, the author of In Searchof Excellence, talks about going into an organization where a number ofproblems existed. When he attempted to get the organizationsleadership to address the problems, he got the defensive response, "Butwere no worse than anyone else!" Peters cites this sarcastically as agreat vision for an organization: "Acme Widgets: Were No Worse ThanAnyone Else!" A vision so characterized by lack of a striving forexcellence would not motivate or excite anyone about that organization.The standard of excellence also can serve as a continuing goal andstimulate quality improvement programs, as well as providing ameasure of the worth of the organization.It bridges the present and the future. The right vision takes theorganization out of the present, and focuses it on the future. Its easy toget caught up in the crises of the day, and to lose sight of where youwere heading. A good vision can orient you on the future, and providepositive direction. The vision alone isnt enough to move you from thepresent to the future, however. Thats where a strategic plan, discussedlater in the chapter, comes in. A vision is the desired future state for theorganization; the strategic plan is how to get from where you are now towhere you want to be in the future.
Examples:PepsiCo"PepsiCos responsibility is to continually improve all aspects of the world inwhich we operate - environment, social, economic - creating a better tomorrowthan today. Our vision is put into action through programs and a focus onenvironmental stewardship, activities to benefit society, and a commitment tobuild shareholder value by making PepsiCo a truly sustainable company."(Quoted from Pepsi Co.com.)Amazon"Our [Amazons] vision is to be earths most customer centric company; tobuild a place where people can come to find and discover anything they mightwant to buy online." (Quoted from Amazon.com)