Association Leadership: Crafting A Strong Vision Statement

vision statement

The new year is a great time for association leadership to take stock of their current strategic plan. If you are in the process of this already you are likely considering if your organization’s Vision Statement matches what you are actually doing.

A strong Practical Vision Statement puts a stake in the ground that managers and employees feel compelled to reach, and guides the rest of the non-profit business plan.

Part of the problem with Vision Statements is that many organizations articulate them for the wrong reason: because everyone else has one. Then, unfortunately, they put them on their website and other prominent places where their employees, donors, members and competitors can see them.

If your management or board wants to create a vision statement merely as a show piece, stay away. Help them with their vision only if they see it as an important first step to a really great business plan.

Don’t Flaunt it Unless You’ve Really Got It

Don’t get us wrong, if you have a great Practical Vision Statement, flaunt it. After creating the Practical Vision Statement, you can carefully craft a version that can be communicated to various stakeholders.

If you set out to create a vision statement that sounds nice…that is what you’ll get. It probably won’t be that useful. Our advice is that you set out to create a great Vision Statement to help guide the plan and run the business. You can worry communicating it later.

Start from Scratch

We have all seen terrible vision statements. Occasionally you even see one that you think is really good. When you do, print it or copy it down and file it away so you can show it to your participants when you are helping them articulate their own Vision Statement. Maybe your organization’s Vision Statement is already in your “ugly file”.

A word of caution: don’t try to sit down and rewrite a really bad vision statement. If the Vision Statement is that bad, likely so is the underlying vision. Convince your participants to throw it out and start from scratch using the principles and methodology outlined in our Strategy and Business Planning Toolkit.

Next week we’ll analyze an example of a good Practical Vision Statement so you can understand everything that goes into it.

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