What is a Vision

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Introduction A vision is a statement that paints an idealized picture of what an organization wants to become. Jick (2002) offers a similar definition. He calls it, “an attempt to articulate what a desired future for a company would look like” (p. 142). Although many definitions for vision are similar, the effects visions have on organizations vary. For some the vision is an agent of change, for others it is a source of confusion. The difference lies in certain elements of the vision, and how the leader implements the vision throughout the organization. This paper will look at what makes an effective vision and how it impacts an organization; it will highlight the significance of employee identification, and how a leader can develop and institute a vision in an effective manner. It also takes a look at the current vision of an organization, and offers some recommendations to increase that vision’s effectiveness. An Effective Vision Constructing a vision statement is not as simple as scribbling down the first thing that comes to mind. A leader take must include certain elements in the vision to ensure it is effective and contributes to the success of the organization. A few of those elements include long-term, inspiring, and aligned with the values and culture of the organization. A vision should look beyond the day-to-day operations of the organization and focus on the future. By developing a long-term vision, a leader moves the focus of employees from the daily tasks to the future goal. Deetz, Tracy & Simpson (2000) write, “When an organization has a clear sense of purpose and knows where it wants to go, that gives meaning to what happens day in and day out” (p. 53). A long-term vision impacts the organization by highlighting the contrast between where the organization is and where it needs to go. Jick (2002) argues, “This creates a structural tension between today and tomorrow that seeks a resolution" (p. 144). The organization then succeeds as motivated employees work towards their objectives in order to calm the tension, lessen the gap, and turn the vision into reality. For a vision to be truly effective, it has to inspire employees to take action. This means it has to reflect a greater purpose that stirs up passion in employees. As an example, Nike’s vision is “to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world” (Nike, 2011). The vision reflects a greater purpose to impact the lives of athletes everywhere, and paints a picture for employees of why their work is important.
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