(Strategic) Vision

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Description of (Strategic) Vision. Explanation.


Strategic Vision

Definition (Strategic) Vision. Description.

A Vision is the desired future state at which a company and its leader hope to arrive. Essentially the strategic aim of the corporation. It is the imaginative picture of the future state of affairs a firm wishes to achieve. Vision comes from Latin videre - to see. A vision is typically a type of aim at a high and less-specific level in comparison to a medium-level Objective or a low-level Target.

Visionary Leadership

According to most people having a vision is one of the most important assets a 'true' leader should bring to the table. Some people argue that visionary leadership is just one of a number of valid Leadership Styles.

In the corporate reality it's clear that more people aspire for a strategic vision than there are people who actually have it...

Vision versus Mission VERSUS Purpose

A vision should not be confused with a Mission (the motives, drivers, principles which set a firm in motion: the combination of the corporate purpose, strategy, values, standards and behaviors) nor with Moral Purpose (a value that, when it is articulated, appeals to the innate sense which is held by some individuals of what is right and what is worthwhile).

Elements of a Vision

Four common characteristics of a strong and powerful vision are:

  • Gives forward guidance and direction
  • Is ambitious and imaginative
  • Is daring or stretching
  • Is energizing and mobilizing

Features of an Effective Vision. Guidelines

Based on a study, Kantabutra and Avery (2010) developed seven features of effective visions:

  1. Brief: Effective visions are brief and consist of up to 22 words. This briefness is needed to easily communicate and remember the vision.
  2. Prime Goal: An effective vision should direct attention towards a prime goal. Such a vision is easily understood and thus does not need extended explanation and discussion.
  3. Abstract: Although a vision should direct attention towards a prime goal, the vision should not point to a specific one-time goal that can be eliminated after having accomplished the goal. Rather a vision should be abstract and cover business activities of the entire company even in the long run. allowing individual interpretations. Allowing individual interpretations increases the base of stakeholders that can support the vision and allows for creativity.
  4. Challenging: A vision that is challenging encourages employees to maximize their efforts to achieve the desired results. Furthermore, a challenging vision is difficult to achieve. This leads to the fact that employees can increase their self-esteem when achieving the vision.
  5. Long-term Perspective: An effective vision should express the longer-term business perspective and should take into account the future environment in which an organization operates. The reason is that only when offering better future prospects, organizational members can be inspired and thus can be committed to fulfilling the vision.
  6. Stable: Visions should not need to be changed in reaction to short-term changes such as new technologies. Rather, effective visions should be flexible in order to allow for  short-term fluctuations.
  7. Directly Inspiring: Organizational performance can only be achieved through others (staff and employees). Therefore a vision must be able to increase the staff's motivation to work for the organization’s objectives. As a result, effective visions should be inspiring and desirable.

Vision versus Strategic Intent

A vision is similar to Hamel and Prahalad's Strategic Intent: an ambitious and compelling dream that energizes; which provides the emotional and intellectual energy for the journey to the future.

Vision Statement

Often, the strategic vision is reflected in a summarized form in the Vision Statement.

Creating a Vision

Creating or developing a corporate vision is crucial, but extremely hard to do. Seeing the future early and accurately and making sense out of it involves a lot of creativity, Lateral Thinking and intelligence. Several phenomena from psychological origin are causing difficulties in developing a vision properly, see for example Groupthink, Cognitive Dissonance, and Cognitive Biases.


Source: Kantabutra, S. and Avery, G.C. (2010) “The Power of Vision: Statements that Resonate” Journal of Business Strategy Vol. 31 Iss.1 pp. 37-45

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Compare with: Strategic Intent  |  Ashridge Mission Model  |  Moral Purpose  |  CSFs and KPIs  |  VMOST  |  Business Models  |  Corporate Charter  |  Storytelling  |  Strategic Management  |  Strategic Analysis

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