Vision over purpose (Part 1)  

According to Business Queensland a vision is:

 

“a vivid mental image of what you want your business to be at some point in the future, based on your goals and aspirations. Having a vision will give your business a clear focus and can stop you heading in the wrong direction.”

 

If you are in an existing business, you may have spent some time running a vision workshop, getting your founders, CEO, Executive, marketing and comms team or a branding expert in a room to develop the company vision, in order to share this and inspire your staff.

 

When attending business and entrepreneurship programs, the question of vision and mission statements are invariably raised, often accompanied by the now famous golden circles Ted Talk by Simon Sinek. Working with business owners and prospective business owners, their vision (mission) is often a little blurry, complicated by the pressures of iconic visions of companies like,

 

Nike: “to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world”

 

and Starbucks: “to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”

 

For the sake of clarity, in this article, vision and mission are interchangeable. Words like “company essence”, “heart” and so on are often bandied around.

 

 

For me, it’s much simpler. Less complicated.

 

And while yes, the words you use matter, what matters more, is not the size of the print you use to display these on your corporate headquarters, but the reason you are writing it.

Firstly, its ok to start a business without a unique, outstanding business vision. Yes, I know how that sounds, but most people don’t start a business with a vision in mind.  Sure, there is always reason, but this can range from because no one else will hire me, to financial freedom or to meet a social need.  At the start, it’s about getting the business started, getting the processes up and running, finding people who can support you and getting customers. 

 

Secondly, the vision is not really about the customer; it’s about you and your team. It’s the guiding light you are working towards. And, it’s what makes your team get up every day and do what they do for you and the business; or rather, it should be.

 

It is here I need to digress and discuss the difference between a vision and purpose.

 

Your Vision should be eternal and for most companies aspirational. As mentioned, the vision can be seen as the guiding light that leads everyone instrumental to getting your service or product to your clients. 

Your Purpose, however, is focused on the goal. For a business, it is what you will provide to your clients and how. “A statement of purpose should, therefore, illustrate how you will improve the lives of those you serve.”

 

For an organisation, each department or business function may have their own purpose, while united under a single company vision.  To illustrate the difference at an individual level, consider Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz.

 

Dorothy all had a clear Vision – to get safely to Oz to see the Wizard.

 

Along the way, her fellow travellers bought into this Vision and joined her cause, doing everything they could to help it be realised. Now consider Purpose. While united in the Vision, each members of the ‘team’ had a different reason or purpose for joining her. While Dorothy was seeking Oz in order to get home. The Lion he was seeking courage, the Tinman a heart and the Scarecrow a brain.

 

The way I distinguish the two is:  Vision will help you get the right people on the business, while their purpose will ensure they are each doing the right tasks.

 

 

When preparing your Vision for your organisation, or developing a personal or family Vision, some things to consider are:

 

  • What matters most to you?
  • What are you working for?
  • What do you aspire to [achieve, offer, change]? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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