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Special report: Developing a vision for your business

This special report looks at what makes a good vision, the benefits of having one, the role of the FD in the process, leadership, storytelling and the use of visions in medium-sized businesses.

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Full report is only available to Business and Management Faculty members and subscribers to Faculties Online.

Developing a vision for your business

When I first proposed the idea of a special report on business visions I was met with two strongly held views; firstly: that visions are hugely valuable in providing businesses with a sense of direction and employees with a common sense of purpose; secondly: that visions are no more than empty talk which bear no relation to how businesses really operate. Hopefully, after reading this report you will be convinced that the first view has merit, but at the very least you should feel well informed enough to know which camp you belong to.

Some of the cynicism surrounding visions may well be caused by the lack of consistency in the way the term vision is defined. As I discovered, when trawling the internet for the examples that we have included in the appendix, one person’s mission is another person’s vision. The terms are often used interchangeably.

Even within this report opinions differ over the way in which visions should best be used. For example, some people suggest that a vision should be a succinct and inspiring statement of how the world will be once the vision is reality; others recommend the use of a longer ‘vision story’ which describes the future state in enough detail for people to experience it and imagine themselves part of it.

You will need to decide which definitions and methodologies will work best for you and your business. Whatever approach you take there are some aspects that our experts seem to agree on:

  • as a leader, walk the talk – lofty words are no use without consistent actions;
  • avoid buzz-words and management speak;
  • don’t work alone: consider using representatives from throughout the business to help develop and refine your vision; and
  • ensure that those within the organisation understand how the vision relates to their day-to-day job.

In the course of developing this report a number of pertinent questions were asked by the review panel. We have used these to develop a questions and answers section. Visit the Finance and Management Faculty’s LinkedIn group to have a look the queries raised, and also to add your own voice to the debate.

We hope you find this report useful. If you have any comments on this report, or ideas for future publications that you would find helpful, then please get in touch.

Published by Finance and Management Faculty (SR30, September 2010)

Comments and suggestions to:

Emma Riddell, Head of the Finance and Management Faculty