2 of-vision

Vision is a clear and compelling picture of how an organization looks at specific points in time. It briefly outlines what constitutes success, includes key performance indicators, highlights market impact, and is fundamentally designed to motivate, inspire, and guide individual and organizational behaviors that are necessary to achieve the desired states.

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CX Research


Organizational Design

The formal Vision statement is a critical component in an overall strategic effort. The statement provides a third point of triangulation in concert with Values and Mission and is most valuable in pinpointing precisely what an organization will and will not do.

The Vision goes on to describe at a high level, the realm in which that organization intends to provide value, the market impact of that value at given points in time (typically 1,3, and 5 years), and goes on to describe how that impact is fundamentally measured. As a document, its fidelity is high level enough to keep it from being entrenched in micro-details yet specific enough to offer critical guidance in decision-making.

The Vision statement works by defining the boundaries of a strategy and works to voice the expected organizational behaviors that are critical to the success of the endeavor. By design, it is a living document that inspires and challenges the organization with realistic, obtainable, time-boxed objectives that offer a degree of “wow” to consumers of the value it offers. It is not a ‘set-and-forget milestone’ that is there chiefly for regulatory compliance.

The central components of a Vision statement focus on:

  • Client-centric action – Declaratory statements on broad market impact and specific customer value points.
  • Behavioral context – Inspires and encourages individual and collective behaviors that reflect the stated organizational values and mission. It stretches capabilities and thinking to drive innovation and growth.
  • Metrics centered – Outlines what success looks like at specific points in time and offers metrics for assuring goal attainment.
  • Outlines organizational parameters - Clarifies the central organizational focus in this effort and outlines what it will refrain from doing.

With these pillars in place, the organization can operate as an effective, coherent unit that is aware, responsive, innovative, and supportive of internal and external audiences.

Common Pitfalls

Even in highly effective organizations, over time the dominant business logic that successfully delivers the critical behaviors and outcomes that deliver success can be afflicted with inattentive blindness; a collective inability to perceive subtle shifts (and occasionally bold shifts) in market dynamics and user preferences. As organizations mature, they become more confident in their assumptions and either fail to revisit the Vision statement or revisit it with lackluster enthusiasm.

The resulting conditions may be seen in:

  • Reduced innovation and ownership – The lack of a restated vision which offers clarity and a sense of purpose will begin to reward efficiency over effectiveness; the initial steps towards strangling innovation and creativity in an organization. This effect will systematically appear in products and services, resulting in diminished consumer delight.
  • Increased organizational dysfunctions – Competing internal interests and an overzealous attitude of optimization create conditions that favor internal organizational convenience over external customer experience. With this internal tension, the energy typically focused on consumer interest is redistributed towards internal politics. The organization becomes consumed with internal metrics and is rewarded in the marketplace with increasing irrelevance.
  • Increasing commoditization coupled with decreasing customer loyalty – The inability of the organization to effectively position products and services in the marketplace with a predictable cadence (the cost of delay, market impact, and consumer value are given less weight than are the internal costs of development, the gross profit, and the anticipated return on investment) will ensure that sales are increasingly competing on cost rather than value.