Visions are simply the fist step in the goal setting and planning process. While mission statements guide the organization in its day-to-day operations, visions provide a sense of direction in the long term -- they provide the means to the future.

In "Leaders," Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus conclude, "Leaders articulate and define what has previously remained implicit or unsaid; then they invent images, metaphors, and models that provide a focus for new attention. By so doing, they consolidate or challenge prevailing wisdom. In short, an essential factor in leadership is the capacity to influence and organize meaning for the members of the organization."

They continue, "Managers are people who do things right and leaders are people who do the right thing. The difference may be summarized as activities of vision and judgment -- effectiveness verses activities of mastering routine -- efficiency."

Bennis and Nanus describe leaders as "creating dangerously" -- they change the basic metabolism of the organization. Top Peters wrote that leaders, "must create new worlds. And then destroy them; and then create anew (Thriving On Chaos)." What is interesting, is that Peters defines visions as aesthetic and moral -- as well as strategically sound. Which would sort of knock Hitler's quest of the world as being a vision. Visions that are merely proclaimed, but not lived convincingly are nothing more than mockeries of the process.

Vision Statement Examples

"Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success." - explorer Ernest Shackleston in a 1890 job ad for the first Antarctic expedition.

"When I'm through...everyone will have one." - Henry Ford on democratizing the automobile

"I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth." - President Kennedy, May 25, 1961

"There's something going on here...something that is changing the world...and this is the epicentre." Steve Job of Apple Computers during its initial start-up

"Quality, hard work, and commitment - The stuff America is made of. Our goal is to be the best. What else is there? If you can find a better car, buy it." - Lee Iacocca when he was chairman of Chrysler Corporation

"2000 stores by the year 2000." - Howard Schultz, of Starbucks Coffee Company

"Do it, try it, fix it!" - Wal-Mart's Vision

"To strengthen the social fabric by continually democratizing home ownership." - Federal National Mortgage Association, Fannie Mae

Exploring the past, illuminating the present and imagining the future" - National Museum of Australia

"Empower people through great software, anyplace, any time and on any device." - Microsoft's vision

"To provide the best service and lowest fares to the short haul, frequent-flying, point-to-point, non-interlining traveler." - Southwest Airlines' vision

"Whirlpool, in its chosen lines of business, will grow with new opportunities and be the leader in an ever-changing global market. We will be driven by our commitment to continuous quality improvement and to exceeding all of our customers' expectations. We will gain competitive advantage through this, and by building on our existing strengths and developing new competencies. We will be market driven, efficient and profitable. Our success will make Whirlpool a company that worldwide customers, employees and other stakeholders can depend on." - Wirlpool's vision


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Created May 9, 2005
Updated May 6, 2007


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