In this blog we will up the ante. I claim that it is useless to have a vision. Yes, you read that correctly. A vision is useless, at least in the form I’ve seen in many companies. Let me explain how this situation can be improved. Come along for the ride. Let the journey begin!
First of all, it’s really hard to define the word vision. Many start sweating while trying to find a crystal ball that can predict the future. But all crystal balls are sold out and they’re no longer manufactured. At the same time, there’s pressure to have a vision. Then people start to figure out what it is.
When the vision has been defined, it very often doesn’t give a direction to anything. It’s easily just a fine word.
Here’s what happens in almost 95% of all companies: Everyone wants to be number one. The best and the most wanted, that’s their vision. When I ask them “Isn’t being number one a status?” They answer: “Yes.”
My next question is: “Who gives you this status?”. Easy answer: THE CUSTOMERS!
Follow-up question: “What is it exactly that you do to deserve such an honor?” …And then comes the “OOPS!” They don’t know.
Something is wrong with this idea! Can it be fixed? What is the catch behind the whole thing?
The problem is that sentences are empty, and the bubble is easy to puncture. I have a feeling that many companies define the number one -status because that’s how they can easily get rid of the situation. Being number one is important for the stock owners because they know that the marketing director earns the most. That’s why it’s inspiring for them. However, it doesn’t direct or lead the operation, it’s an empty sentence!
Let’s puncture the bubble and see what can be done.
What is the basic idea behind this? Why is a vision sentence needed?
The first reason is very important for business: To create meaning both to us and the customers.
It should also give direction, but if the direction is to be number one, what direction is it giving us? How does one become number one? What do we need? Direction is very important, which I agree with.
The vision must help to create a responsible business. A very desirable state.
The vision should also increase people’s energy levels and excitement. People should feel it’s great to work in this company because they are fulfilling their purpose. Perhaps the most famous vision sentence is by J.F. Kennedy:
“I want to have a man on the moon before the end of the sixties”
The excitement! It was a vision, but at the same time, one could say it was a purpose. I return to this subject because I would like to replace vision with purpose. NASA got a boost of energy – it was a meaningful mission! Except after when twenty people had been sent to the moon, the project was discontinued. However, having a human walk on another celestial body was terrific!
Somehow having this deeper meaning is a fine thing. At Stradigo, we have for a long time used the sun as a metaphor for this. If the sun shines on us and our customers, it has meaning. And if we’re not excited about this meaning, we won’t know how to spread it to our customers either. That’s why we do things in this order: We come first, then the customers.
The image above has sectors. How does the sun appear to the customers and our staff? How does the sun shine on sales and production, and so on? The sectors are gradually filled with many important things, and together they form the sun concept also known as the meaning sector. That’s why I think a deeper meaning is a crucial tool for differentiation. Many gold grains create a large, differentiating chunk of gold.
The words mission and vision have meanings that are so close to each other that people easily confuse them together and get the meanings mixed up. People don’t know for sure what a company’s mission and vision are. They might remember one of the answers, but when the topic is discussed they actually aren’t sure if people are talking about the mission or the vision. So, why go through the trouble and possible hassle by using two words with very close meanings? Why not only use one word to describe both? Purpose is a great word because it actually combines what people refer to when they talk about mission and vision.
The purpose is how we help our customers and how we make the world a better place. It isn’t the easiest thing to define. At Stradigo, our customers’ current purposes have improved in every strategy project, because the strategy has been followed up more critically.
The great thing is that the sun is shining upon us already today. We have the meaning and the purpose already today. Three-five years into the future is where our state of vision is. What if it’s the same sun that shines only more brightly? Our purpose might have gotten deeper and stronger. If we have our mission today, and a deeper version of it as our vision, why use two different concepts? Especially when it’s so hard to guess the direction the world is going. Having a purpose makes people excited.
Our purpose is permanent. It doesn’t change. If it does, then the business has changed. It might happen if competition in the old field has bulked up and no longer produces income.
Could we start thinking that our purpose already exists today, and strategy is what takes us towards a deeper purpose? This is a source of immense inspiration. That’s why I propose getting rid of the word vision. It’s impossible to know what the future brings, but the purpose might not change for a very long time.
Get rid of vision and mission and replace them with a purpose! You can use whatever word you feel like, but aim or target aren’t good options because they are “out there somewhere”. The sun shines today! Significance is ok, but it isn’t active. Purpose is more powerful.
Let’s make the world a better place with a purpose! And let’s be proud of it! We differentiate from our competitors with how our purpose spreads in the organization. It’s hard to copy! It creates a competitive advantage, a permanent one! Wow!
Stradigo is a brand owned by Rdigo Oy (Business-ID: 2120844-1).
Rdigo Oy is registered in Finland as a Limited company. We are a strategy consultancy located in the Helsinki capital region.
We’ve been in business since 2007. The company name comes from the latin word Redigo, meaning both ‘I shape’ & ‘I renew’.
Stradigo combines the word strategy with Rdigo.