Guest Post by Jack Dunigan

Once you’ve answered the four questions (see Monday’s LeadingWithQuestions post) it’s time to consider the four components of an effective vision statement.

  1. Define your customers. Even the most gigantic businesses have a defined customer base. Walmart sells clothing but their target customer is not the same customer as those who shop at Neiman Marcus.
  2. Define your customer’s needs. All businesses, and I mean all businesses even those who are non-profit ones, are in the problem-solving business. Someone, your target customer has a need that must be fulfilled, a problem to be solved, and your company will solve that problem. A restaurant does not sell prepared food. It sells satisfaction of hunger, the satiation of an appetite. A furniture store does not sell sofas or beds. It sells devices upon which to sit and sleep. Non-profits have a leg up on this component because their validation for existence is almost always very clearly defined – feed the hungry, house the homeless, care for the sick, etc.
  3. Define your product or service.  What will your company provide or your organization supply to solve your customer’s problem and satisfy their need(s)?
  4. Define your company’s values.  Here is a list of examples of business values. Consider them and identify five or six which represent how you want your business TO BE PERCEIVED. This is all about perceptions, your value as a business or organization lies in how the public in general and your customers in particular see you.

Accurate                                 Reliable

Best Products                         Responsive

Highly Specialized                  Industry Standard

Solution-oriented                   Special Expertise

State-of-the-art                      Supportive

Teamwork Effective               Proactive

Profitable                                Progressive

Growth-oriented                    Respect for the Individual

High Energy                           Committed

Socially Responsible              Cost Effective

Creative                                  Credible

Customer Service                   Decisive

Dependable                            Technology Driven

Trustworthy                           Unique

Visionary                                Excellent

Recognition                            High Market Perception

Respectable                            High-spirited

Highest Value                        Highly Specialized

Consistent                              Industry Pioneer

Innovative                               Integrity/Honesty

Leadership                              Loyal

Market Leader                       Most Competitive

Most Efficient                        Enthusiastic

__________                        ______________

__________                        ______________ (write your own)

You may readily find more than five or six and that’s good for you as a values-driven company. But it’s too broad to fixate on a vision. Narrow it down to the five or six most representative.

Here’s the formula:

  1. What do we provide?
  2. To who?
  3. So they will perceive us how?

Here’s Lowe’s statement again:

“We will provide customer-valued solutions with the best prices, products, and services to make Lowe’s the first choice for home improvement.”

Take a minute and identify the three parts of the formula in their statement.

Okay, once the four components of your vision have been identified, clarified, and narrowed – customers, their needs, your products and/or services, and your values, and once you understand the simple formula, you should be able to write your own. Here are some examples:

Let’s say you manufacture food:

  1. What do we provide? Convenience foods, snack foods, well-packaged and sealed.
  2. To who? Food wholesalers and brokers
  3. So they will perceive us how? As providers of nutritious food, good tasting food conveniently packaged that saves time. As a reliable company that consistently demonstrates high quality.

Example vision statement:

We are a reliable supplier of nutritious snack foods to wholesalers and brokers who service convenience stores that provide good-tasting and nutritious products which represent good value.

More examples:

A consulting firm

HRC develops and promotes the highest quality human resource practices and initiatives in an ethical, cost-effective, and timely manner to help First Nations and other Aboriginal organizations reach their objectives.

Auto Parts Supplier

Drive-Rite Auto Parts Ltd. Is a supplier of used auto parts and a major supplier to auto parts dealers and suppliers. The company is a leader in product quality and maintains the lowest cost position relative to competitors.

Construction company

Sahtu Contractors delivers quality services at competitive prices in the construction, maintenance, and resource industries. Sahtu provides investment, training, employment, and growth opportunities to the residents of Fort Good Hope and the Sahtu area in the long-term interest of the company and the region. Sahtu conducts business in a profitable, efficient, effective, safe, and environmentally sound manner and provides stimulus to local economic development.

Okay, now it’s time to write yours. Once it’s written, evaluate it against the following criteria.

  1. It should NOT be concerned with a particular or individual job. It should be concerned with your business as a whole.
  2. It should act like an umbrella. All jobs and activities fit under it.
  3. It should be short and concise.
  4. It should mean something to customers, employees, management, and investors.
  5. It should be focused on how your business will help people, how it will add value.

Jack Dunigan is Founder and Director of Leadership Services, Inc . Since 1972 Jack’s clients include tribal governments, major American companies, and charities in more than 35 countries. You can connect with Jack @ThePracticalLeader.com and find his four books @PowerlinesPress.com.

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