Creating a vision document
Best practices for visioning
Entrepreneurs are natural visionaries, but often that image in your head can be difficult to share with your team and the greater outside world. We all think in pictures, so creating a picture of your vision is the perfect way to communicate your goals and desires, not just to your team but to anyone connected to your business: vendors, partners, or customers.
For readers who are familiar with the Evolved Enterprise model, this process is part of the culture section. A vision document helps build your internal and external culture.
In his masterclass presentation, Chris looked at an early example of a powerful vision document created by Walt Disney. This graphic demonstrates the interconnected process, platform, and framework that Walt envisaged for his company from the very beginning.
Here’s an image that illustrates the Maverick vision (incorporating Evolved Enterprise) – it’s like a shorthand version of our vision statement at a glance. Visuals and graphics are a good way to bring people together to understand your story.
A vision document gives you guidance on what to say yes to and what to turn down.
So the first step is to get clear on why are you doing what you’re doing:
What’s your cause?
What’s the impact of what you’re doing?
Who you are serving?
What are your core values?
What is your mission?
When you’re creating this picture of what your enterprise will be, it helps if you fix a date in the future and use it as a goal or target for your vision and mission. Three to four years ahead is a realistic time frame that gives you an opportunity to grow and develop.
Define what you want (but don’t worry about the how just yet). Think of the mission as your North Star, setting a direction for you to follow. At Evolved Enterprise, our mission on the way to 2020 is: “Changing the way business is played.”
The (2020 perfect) vision
So here’s our what and why:
“2020 represents perfect vision, it’s time for evolved entrepreneurs, visionary creatives, and maverick leaders to rewrite the rules of business for the 21st century. Together we can co-create innovative business ideas and apply them to solve significant global issues. Our goal is to instigate the instigators, connect the connectors, and catalyze the catalysts with a dash of maverick mischief thrown in. We believe business can be the biggest lever for making a meaningful difference in the world. Collectively, one community of impact entrepreneurs can change the way business is played.”
Chris defines our ideal client avatar (evolved entrepreneurs) as “business leaders who collide at that intersection of bold business initiatives, happiness, and greater meaning. And at their core, they believe in growth, impact, and joy.”
Our vision document goes into more detail – delving into the why, the who (are we serving), what we’re doing, and how we’re doing it.
As part of our 2020 vision, we incorporate an impact scoreboard.
As Chris explains, an impact scoreboard goes beyond basic profit and loss metrics “to measure the ripple effect of growth impact and happiness.”
For an Evolved Enterprise, this means creatively developing impact goals that contribute to more profitability and success as inevitable byproducts against the global goals as defined by the UN.
So what does your future look like, one, three, or five years out? Remember that it’s a framework – things won’t go entirely to plan. We know the collective approach that Evolved Enterprise promotes is going to get messy at times, but ultimately we will be stronger, more profitable, and more innovative than we would be as separate companies.
So use your impact scoreboard to keep a tally not just of revenue and profit margins but also as a measure of your impact and the socially beneficial byproducts of your profitability.
Mindmaps are perfect for any brainstorming session, but they’re particularly effective for mapping out your vision. Mindmaps are a simple “whiteboard” tool that captures our stream of consciousness thought patterns. Often, our ideas come to the surface by free association – the beauty of mind maps is that these ideas don’t need to be linear; they all find their place on the map as the process evolves. All you really need is a pen and paper, but it’s also worth taking a look at Mindmeister or MindJet, which are two excellent online tools.
When you schedule your mindmapping session, don’t stay in the office – go somewhere new, somewhere inspirational. Outside is good.
When you create a vivid, compelling vision, people understand where you are going and can help create connections for you. It’s about setting the stage for where you are headed.
It’s important to write your vision like it’s already happened, not what it might be. As Yanik says, “If you want all-in players, 100 percenters, whatever you want to call them, that vision has to inspire them.” It’s a vital tool for attracting the right people and also repelling those who don’t get it.
The 5 keys to a remarkable vision
Write down everything you’re proud of. (This creates positive energy.)
Don’t edit…just write. You can edit later – just get it all down.
Turn off all distractions (phones, computers, etc.), set a time limit, and go for it.
There is no right or wrong.
Go with whatever pulls at your heart.
So you’ve finished your mindmapping, and now you have a draft of your vision – but there are so many ideas, where do you go from there? Chris recommends you go with the key initiatives first. These are your top 20%, the actions that gain 80% of the results you’re after.
Sometimes vision statements can seem like a carbon copy of every other company. The key, Chris suggests, is a vision that really “sings from your own heart.”
His final question for you to consider is this:
What’s that unique thing about your business that you do and only you do in such a unique, compelling way?
Here are two books Chris recommends for those who want to go deeper into visioning:
For those concerned with making their vision a reality, here are two more must-reads:
About the Author
Chris Hay, partnerships manager at Evolved Enterprise
Chris is a serial entrepreneur who has struggled for several years to reconcile his passion for the entrepreneurial spirit with a visceral desire to live a meaningful life and create a positive social and environmental legacy.