Envisioning A Future That Matters

by Kim Faulkner 13 July 2018

The former Financial Times columnist, Lucy Kellaway, has a wonderful knack of calling “a spade, a spade” and nowhere is that needed more than in the realm of corporate visioning exercises. She accuses proponents of “corporate guff; …conveying fake emotion” and above all, NEVER using “a simple word when a longer one would do.”

What an indictment it is of the way corporate visions have evolved to become more WOW (Words On Walls) - and yet, it doesn’t have to be this way. 

Powerful corporate visions can have a galvanising effect on organisations. These point to an envisioned future that is different from today. They also articulate why this difference matters, and they provide both meaning and context.

Bold visions demand that everyone on the team pull together to perform to their fullest potential. N. R. Narayana Murthy, founder of Infosys said:

“You have to create a grand, noble vision which elevates the energy, enthusiasm and self-esteem of everyone in the company while ensuring that everybody sees a benefit in following the vision.”

The best vision statements MUST combine MEANING AND CONTEXT with a succinct use of words.

Take for instance, IKEA's vision "To create a better every-day life for the many people." It's easy to understand, and you immediately know how the brand is positioned, and it is completely aligned with their purpose of providing a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them.

That is why developing a Vision statement should not be seen as a copywriting exercise, but a collective and strategic collaboration. Properly facilitated, it can be a powerful and inspiring springboard for change.

NUHS envisioning 2

stimulus wall Once a transformative idea has been established, the crafting of the vision statement can then take place. An inspiring vision should be:

  1. Brief - so everyone can remember and repeat it

  2. Specific - so it’s really clear and achievable

  3. Consistent - so people really internalize it

  4. Evocative- so it matters to the people it’s meant to inspire

It should also disallow laudatory adjectives and jargon – words and phrases that sound agreeable, but have no real meaning. It should definitely disallow vague, laudatory nouns and adjectives like “excellence”; “highest quality”; “best-in-class”.

Whilst onerous, it filters out all the redundant self-congratulatory words that leave meaning and context behind.

Ultimately, a visioning exercise should be a process in co-creation and a platform to kick-start positive change. A thoughtfully structured and professionally facilitated process can make all the difference, and this is not a journey you want to embark on alone.  

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kim has over 30 years of branding, marketing and design experience in Asia and has lectured and written extensively on the subject of branding, strategy development, marketing and design across the region.