Does your Vision Statement really generate value?

Curious about how organizations define their visions we analyzed the 250 largest and biggest organization in Brazil ranked by Exame, a Brazilian magazine, in 2012. It was interesting to see that most of them, and this applies not just for Brazilian companies, searched for external admiration or to be one of the leading in their segment. Simply, to be the best! But, do organization really need to proclaim that they want to be the biggest, best, and most admirable of all? Is the generation of value not the underlying premise of organization? Should they not go beyond, and ask themselves how the vision can guide the acquisition of future talents and the generation of value with their clients in the future?

The definition of a Vision allows us to imagine a new desired reality. It is a process where anything is possible with the goal to inspire and align. What we have to ask however is, how the Vision Statement can makes sense beyond the organizational border, beyond its decorative use in meeting rooms and focus on value generation. And additionally, how can we reduce the immense space of possibility towards plausibility, connecting the future with the present.

A Vision Statements therefore defines a strategic north that inspires. But it also has to incorporate what makes sense for the internal and external clients. Only then new value opportunities surge and value is exchanged. How could a vision look like, that goes beyond the pure desired, and support more actively a strategic market positioning in the future?

The result would be a statement, which does not represent a ceteris paribus thinking or assumes that just some parts of society or the organization are in change. Everything is, including the strategic capabilities of your organization.

The Desired Future meets Sensemaking — The Vision Diamond

Karl Weick, the father of this concept, and he describes sense-making, simple: “the making of sense”, in our case, for the organization but also for the individuals and society in the future. This means that also important to mobilize internal employees to a desired outcome, it is not enough. Entering a stage like Steve Ballmer, represents yet a common but insufficient tentative to energize change.

The challenge in our present reality lies much more in the balance between the desired, the plausible and the preferred. This means, we have to balance the desired internal future perspective, with what generates a perceived value (for the individuals of the future), and verify if the organization can deliver new value offerings, with their strategic capabilities in change. The above illustration of the Vision Diamond represents that logic, delivering a Vision Statement where the three described parts, collide.

Organizations urgently should enrich their Vision Statement. It is not more just about an internal perspective of the future and the desired outcome defined by a closed group of people. It is about value generation. And to create this flow of exchange between our organization and our clients/stakeholders, the internal as well the external perspective has to be considered.

Interested in my forthcoming book “Future Value Generation”? Please pre-register on or find a macro summary of the Framework, on my Slideshare.

Image, courtesy via Flicker from Patrik Nygren (CC)