General BusinessNews & Opinion

Is Your Business Vision Past its Expiration Date?

A great vision is one of the most powerful assets a business can have. However, what may have been a great vision five years ago may be lacking (or even obsolete) today.

When the goalposts move, your business’ vision must move with them.

What makes a great business vision? It should be clear and compelling, act as a unifying force, and direct all energy towards one overarching objective. It has a clear finish line, so your business knows when it has achieved that goal. Most importantly, the vision should have a distinctly forward-thinking orientation.

Your business vision should not be confused with your mission statement. While a vision sets out what you hope to achieve, the mission statement answers how you plan to achieve your vision.

Does your business vision do all of this? Here are some questions to ask when putting your vision under the microscope.

Does the Market Look the Same as When You Developed Your Vision?

The best business visions outlast change. However, sometimes the market changes far more than we could have imagined.

For example, In the 1990’s, Bill Gates articulated a clear vision for his company: “Put a computer on every desk and in every home.” In the last 20 years, the way we interact with technology has changed more than even Bill Gates could have predicted. Computers don’t just live on desks anymore; they’re in our pockets, on our wrists and balancing on our faces. Of course, Microsoft was forced to radically review and extend their vision after the unprecedented proliferation of computer technology.

Does Your Business’ Vision Still Excite You?

A business vision should inspire your partners, your employees, your customers and your competition. It should act as a catalyst for future growth, and focus all everyday activities towards achieving that vision.

In the 1960’s, Nike’s vision was simple: “Crush Adidas.” From where we sit today, Nike’s vision doesn’t seem all that far-fetched. However, at the time, Nike (founded as Blue Ribbon Sports) was a two-man operation, which made most of its sales out of the back of a car at local track meets. Your brand vision should scare you a little, but most importantly it should inspire you to do more than you thought possible.

Is Your Business Vision Too Short Sighted?

If you can see your business achieving its vision within the next five years then your vision is too short sighted. A conservative vision will only lead to conservative rewards.

While setting a pie-in-the-sky vision doesn’t ensure you’ll live up to it, setting the bar low will almost guarantee you don’t. Historically, those who have achieved the most are the ones who set out to do great things. Fulfilling a business vision shouldn’t be easy. A short sighted vision will only stifle creativity and limit possibilities.

That said, it’s critical that your vision is put under regular review to ensure your business is on track and aiming for the right target in an evolving market.

Have You Already Achieved It?

Your business vision needs to inspire your employees towards a certain goal, and if all has gone to plan you might have already achieved it. But that’s no reason to stop dead in your tracks.

In 1950, The Boeing Company set out to “become the dominant player in commercial aircraft and bring the world into the jet age.” Boeing has well and truly seen that vision come to life, with the word ‘Boeing’ now synonymous with commercial airliners. Having achieved that goal, Boeing’s vision became bigger and better. The current iteration aims to “inspire the world through aerospace innovation.”

Does Your Vision Reflect the Current Values of the Business?

A business vision should reflect the core values of your company. However, over time these values may change, often from the bottom-up. In this case, the current values and culture of the company may be misaligned with the business vision. If the values of the company have changed for the better, then your business vision should be revised to accommodate these changes. These changes may be as drastic as revising the entire focus of the vision, or as simple as updating the language used to express your vision.


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Neil Parker
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