A vision statement is an inspirational statement of an idealistic emotional future of a company or group. Vision describes the basic human emotion that a founder intends to be experienced by the people the organization interacts with, it grounds the group so it can actualize some existential impact on the world.
A vision statement provides direction, it sets a course toward a future that tells the people in that organization what the group believes, how to behave, and what kinds of decisions to make without explicitly doing so. As a result, a vision - to have vision - means to imagine a world that does not yet exist and intends to inspire people to make it a reality. For an individual, organization, company, etc., what that person or company does and how they do it have nothing to do with its vision statement. Products and services that one wants to provide are never mentioned in a vision. If it did, the company vision would be limited only to producing what was mentioned in the vision. (Not only that, it's boring and uninspiring to do so.) Rather, the actions an organization or individual take (i.e., making or providing something) rationalize the reason for existence spelled out in the vision - they make sense of it.
A vision statement must be written in infinite terms and is not changeable, once decided it is locked. If the company changes the vision based on events like market conditions, current technology, or social media trends the company risks the very foundation for its creation. If it changes its vision on whims, it will inevitably perform poorly financially, operationally, technologically, or all of these because it is making decisions based on near term results only.
The vision is not a roadmap, strategy, or product/service specific execution plan, but it does guide all of these. Vision should also not to be confused with a mission. A mission is time bound, contains a specific goal and purpose for the task, and can be altered or changed based on near real-time conditions of the business, i.e., it is what the leader wants to accomplish right now, it is finite.
The proper formula for realization of a vision must contain the intended emotion the founder will project plus the impact that emotion will have on anyone other than the group or individual (founder) that created it. If it is written in selfish terms, it will never have the intended impact. The statement must be crafted so as to give something to other people.[circular reference][circular reference]
A consensus does not exist on the characteristics of a "good" or "bad" vision statement. Commonly cited traits include:
Vision statements may fill the following functions for a company:
While a consensus does not exist on the value of mission and vision statements, literature supporting the relevance of these documents to companies outweighs those opposed to them. This may be due to, among other reasons, the positive value of the tools in communicating to internal and external stakeholders or retrospective attempts to legitimize the use of these tools.
Creating and implementing vision statements presents challenges to organizations. They can be challenging to write because they must balance being forward-looking and describing an ideal state without becoming so idealistic that the vision is unattainable. Vision statements can be an employee disaster when staff feel the company's vision is filled with business buzzwords unrelated to the company's origin and purpose. A vision statement may need to be paired with company initiatives to communicate and reinforce the vision, ensure processes align with the vision, and empower and incentivize employees to take actions that support the company vision.