Vision: Meaning, Characteristics, Importance, Necessity

Meaning of VisionThe manager’s employees and other stakeholders of an organization might be interested to understand where the organization is going and what it aspires to be.

In order to express an organization’s aspirations for the future, organizations usually use the term vision.

Organizations to use vision as a kind of statement direction, which is needed to motivate and guide the efforts of employees in the organization.

An organization without thought to be just like a ship without a rudder – aimlessly around with no direction ahead.

When the top management to decide about the future direction of the organization, they consider various direction-shaping factors.

The strategy-making efforts of successful organizations are found, to begin with, a vision.

Meaning of Vision

Effective strategy making begins with a vision. Vision is a future-oriented concept of the business. Forming a strategic vision is an exercise in thinking about where a company needs to head to be successful.

A vision is a mental image of a possible and desirable future state of the organization. A vision describes aspirations for the future – a destination for the organization. We can say that a vision is a dream – a distant, long-term dream.

An organization’s vision, which is often called ‘purpose of the organization’, is designed to express the fundamental reason for the organization’s existence.

Usually, most organizations describe their vision or purpose in one or two sentences in the form of a statement – called a vision statement.

A vision statement is used to refer to an understanding of why the organization exists. It provides direction for the organization.

Bennis and Nanus describe the vision as follows;

To choose a direction, a leader must first have developed a mental image of a possible and desirable future state of the organization. This image which we call a vision may be as vague as a dream or as precise as a goal or mission statement. The critical point is that a vision articulates a view of a realistic, credible, attractive future for the organization, a condition that is better in some important ways than what now exists.

It provides a company the sense of ‘where it is headed’ or where we are going. It describes management’s aspirations for the future – a destination for the organization.

We can say that a vision is a dream – a distant, long-term dream.

A vision is organization-specific, that is, a vision is distinctive to a particular organization. It helps a company create a distinctive identity.

Collins and Paras are of the view that an organization’s vision is designed to express the fundamental reason for the organization’s existence. An analysis of vision statements of various organizations reveals that most organizations describe their visions in a few sentences in the form of a statement called vision statement.

A vision statement is used to refer to an understanding of why the organization exists.

However, the vision must be shared and believed by the organization.

If not, it will be counterproductive and maybe degenerated into a buzz word among employees.

Characteristics of Effective Vision

Vision statements of many companies show that most of them do clearly communicate the intent of the management. Some of them are not inspiring.

Vision statements of some companies are full of nicely worded abstracts with no clear direction. These visions statements fail to say anything specific and really meaningful (such as becoming a global leader).

Some vision statements are conspicuous by a lack of distinctive identity (such as to be the first choice of customers). An organization’s management thus needs to be careful in developing a vision statement.

All stakeholders should be involved in developing an organization’s vision to ensure an effectively worded statement. An effective vision should have the following characteristics so that it can serve as a management tool for providing the company a sense of direction.

  • Graphic: The vision should draw a picture that can reveal where the company is heading and can also indicate clearly the market position.
  • Directional: It is able to provide clear direction to the managers and employees as well as describe a forward-looking picture of the company.
  • Focused: It can specifically guide managers in decision making and allocating resources of the company.
  • Flexible: It must be flexible enough so that with changes in the products or technology or market, the vision itself can also be changed to keep pace with the changing situations.
  • Feasible: It should portray an expectation for the future that is achievable – not just spelling out an expectation for the sake of telling about an expectation.
  • Desirable: It should be able to indicate; ‘why the chosen path makes good business sense’.
  • Easy to communicate: The vision must be worded in such a way that it can be communicated easily to the stakeholders, especially the shareholders, employees, and customers.

Examples of Vision Statements of Various Organizations

Let’s see the vision statements of some of the popular organizations and companies in the world.

Name of the OrganizationVision Statements
MicrosoftTo help people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential.
GoogleTo organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
Teslato create the most compelling car company of the 21st century by driving the world’s transition to electric vehicles
IBMTo lead in the creation, development, and manufacture of the industry’s most advanced information technologies, including computer systems, software, networking systems, storage devices, and microelectronics. And our worldwide network of IBM solutions and services professionals translates these advanced technologies into business value for our customers. We translate these advanced technologies into value for our customers through our professional solutions, services and consulting businesses worldwide.
AmazonOur vision is to be earth’s most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.
HuaweiHuawei’s vision is to bring digital to every person, home and organization for a fully connected, intelligent world.
AlibabaWe aim to build the future infrastructure of commerce. We envision that our customers will meet, work and live at Alibaba, and that we will be a company that lasts at least 102 years
Tata PowerTo be the most admired and responsible Integrated Power Company with international footprint, delivering sustainable value to all stakeholders.
Etihad AirwaysThe goal and overall ambition of Etihad Airways is to be the best airline in the world.
JPMorgan ChaseTo be the best financial services company in the world.

Importance of Vision in an Organization

A vision statement is important to a company for a variety of reasons.

First, it provides a clear direction about where the company is heading.

Secondly, it has a strategy-making value in the sense that it indicates the type of strategy the company should follow to reach the dreamed destination.

Thirdly, it helps managers to think strategically about such issues as the advent of new technology, changes in the customer expectations and needs, available marketing opportunities and other environmental factors.

Fourthly, managers get an insight into drawing reasoned conclusions concerning winds of change and then selecting appropriate paths to deal with the change.

Necessity of Vision

A vision statement is important to an organization for a variety of reasons;

  • It provides a clear direction about where the organization is heading.
  • It has a strategy-making value in the sense that it indicates the type of strategy the organization should follow to reach the dreamed destination.
  • It helps managers to think strategically about such issues as the advent of new technology, changes in the customer expectations and needs available marketing opportunities and other environmental factors.
  • Managers get an insight into drawing reasoned conclusions concerning winds of change and then selecting the appropriate paths to deal with the change.

Vision of an Organization Is Not Rhetoric

Some people say: Is not vision rhetoric?

Their view is that vision says nothing, it changes nothing, it is mostly seen hanging in the foyer of corporate offices.

Some people go further to say that all visions look the same and could have all been taken from the same book of corporate vision statements.

However, we believe that vision is something really essential. As a man cannot live without a dream, an organization cannot live without its own dream a vision.

Lewis Carroll rightly said: “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.” We need to ensure that everyone in the organization knows where we are going and knows the road we are on together. It starts with our vision for excellence.

If you are an executive of an organization, just imagine how good your organization’s future could look.
Imagine your organization’s activities – production, customer service, problem-solving, the flow of raw materials, accounting systems, measurement systems, and more.

Imagine production is taking place just in time, imagine a lean manufacturing system is working well to reduce all wastes, imagine components are flowing from process to process with no waiting in piles of inventory. Imagine your accounting and measurement systems are in turkey with your organization system.

This is really your vision for your organization. This vision is where your organization is going.

The Destination that you have set by involving everybody in the organization must be an attractive destination; it must be emotionally acceptable to all of your people.

What is important to you as a leader of your organization is that you must be able to create a climate where there will be passionate sharing of the vision.

You have to make it clear that the future is not somewhere we are going somewhere we are all making.

For the realization of the vision may consider following what the Japanese say ‘honhin kanri’ – that is, coordinating the hearts minds and actions of people of an organization.

Changing the Vision

Stability in the vision is highly desirable. Since a vision is created as a dream that might take a long time to realize, it should have a high degree of stability.

However, it does not necessarily mean that vision cannot be changed.

Especially, in today’s volatile world where the environment is changing very fast, it may be necessary for a firm to redefine its future.

In fact, in strategic management, nothing is static.

We can give an example of the evolving nature of business vision that happened to the IT giant Microsoft Corporation. Microsoft’s case also represents the paradoxes that often underlie strategic management.

Final Words

Strategic management requires a well-thought-out vision and a clear mission for an organization. Subsequently, the mission needs to be translated into organizational objectives for facilitating its achievement.

Vision and mission are important as they provide long-term direction to the organization. And, objectives – both long-range and short-range – provide targets for achievement.