Time to Update Your Corporate Vision Statement? 5 Key Questions to Ask

Sarah Hood

Could an outdated corporate vision statement be holding you back? When should you update your corporate vision? If you’ve done the work to craft a …

Could an outdated corporate vision statement be holding you back?

Rethink vision statementWhen should you update your corporate vision? If you’ve done the work to craft a vision statement that perfectly sums up your company’s essence, you may never need to. “[M]ission or vision statements explain your organization’s foundation, so change should be kept to a minimum,” advises Valencia Higuera of Demand Media. But sometimes external circumstances or internal evolutions can make your strategic vision outdated.

Ideally, your vision is the beacon that guides your organization. It should help leaders focus on the best way forward and inspire employees around a shared set of common goals. But when your vision gets outdated, it’s no longer useful as a signpost towards the company’s future. It can even keep the business stuck in old habits that don’t allow it to grow or change. Here are five questions to help you decide whether it’s time to revisit your corporate vision statement.

  1. Is your corporate vision a vital part of the everyday life of your business? “When was the last time you used your current vision statement for decision making?” asks Adriana Girdler in her “6 Simple Steps To An Amazing And Inspiring Vision Statement”.
  1. Is your vision keeping pace with changes in the business? “When a business reaches a plateau or starts declining into a dip, the leadership team must ask if it is time to rethink your vision,” says Trilogy founder and CEO Hal Levenson in his article “Should You Rethink Your Vision?”
  1. Is it only a list of the things you do? Your vision statement should paint an inspiring picture of the best place your business could go, in enough detail that it will make everyone in the organization hungry to get there. If it’s too short and sweet, it may be “too vague to assist in making strategic decisions,” says Girdler. In “Three Easy Tips to Upgrade Your Vision Statement”, Shelley A. Kirkpatrick, co-founder and CEO of Visiontelligence LLC, says it’s important to “[a]void the generic vision statement of ‘to be the best in our industry”. Instead, find a way to truly inspire employees by describing the impact that you want to have.”
  1. Is it easy to explain? Shaun Spearmon, an engagement leader at Kotter International, estimates that 70% of people “don’t know their organization’s vision, don’t understand it, or feel so disconnected from it that they can’t explain how it relates to their day job” in his excellent Forbes article “Your Company Vision: If It’s Complicated, It Shouldn’t Be.”
  1. Could your current vision statement actually be holding you back? If it’s common to hear people in your organization say things like “We know our competitors inside out”, “Our top priority is keeping our existing customers happy” and “Our processes are so well tuned that the company could practically run itself”, you may be in a dangerous state that Donald Sull calls “active inertia” in his Harvard Business Review article “Why Good Companies Go Bad”. “Stuck in the modes of thinking and working that brought success in the past, market leaders simply accelerate all their tried-and-true activities. In trying to dig themselves out of a hole, they just deepen it,” Sull writes. Instead, they need to re-examine the foundations of the company—which means revisiting the corporate vision.

If you’re still not sure your corporate vision is as strong as it should be, click here for seven awesome vision statement examples, and consider a vision overhaul.

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Sarah B. Hood is a Toronto-based freelance writer. She writes well researched, fresh and engaging articles on news and lifestyle topics like food, culture, design, urban life, environment and travel.

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