The Secret to Corporate Visions That Inspire

Is you vision big on emotional connection?

Who knows? Who gets it? Who cares?

Do you have a clear grasp of the future you want your team or company to achieve? How do you motivate others to row with you and make it happen?

“You need a compelling vision” is the clarion call from a gazillion books on leadership.

You know – let people know where you’re heading and create a rallying, energizing theme that guides the actions of all.

Sound advice. After all, a well-crafted vision is priceless when used to create shared purpose.

And yet, would it surprise you to know that the majority of corporate visions are nigh on useless?

Yep. Despite hours or even months of honing and chiseling – most of ‘em are dull, forgettable and ineffective.

In too many cases, this is because they’re big on corporate speak and short of emotional connection or visual guidance on how things could be.

How often do you come across variations of the following?

“We are committed to being the leading provider of _____ in the world through a focus on innovation, investing in our people, outstanding customer services and providing solutions that are truly responsive to changing customers’ needs while maximizing shareholder value.”

Stirring stuff? Would these words get you fired up? Are they words to live by?

Of course not!

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

While one can argue that there’s nothing wrong with these sentiments – which can come over as well-meaning declarations of intent – they’re unlikely to inspire action. And here’s why.

Not only are they full of bland and impersonal statements…

…They fail to put the people who need to ‘do’ things (the team or employees) front and centre – letting them know:

  • They’re important, part owners of what needs doing, and
  • They’re instrumental in what happens.

It’s hard to get excited about ideas if you can’t easily ‘see’ where you fit in, why you should care and why it all matters.

What does it take to create a winning vision?

Here are some examples of getting the ‘vision thing’ right:

  • “Our goal is to provide outstanding service every day, one customer at a time.”  Nordstrom
  • “We inspire, educate and outfit for a lifetime of outdoor adventures and stewardship.” REI
  • “We seek to be a premier innovative growth company that improves our customers’ financial lives so profoundly they can’t imagine going back to the old way.” Intuit

And what do all of these have in common?

They’re succinct and visual. Those who hear them can see how they can be part of realizing the future described.

Over to you

What’s the most inspiring corporate vision you’ve ever shared or had shared with you?


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About Eamonn O'Brien

Public speaking master, Eamonn O'Brien is the founder of The Reluctant Speakers Club.