If you can get folks to agree that a Vision Statement is “future” focused, you will soon realize there are still a lot of conversations about what it should or should not be. I think one of the best lessons I ever learned about business vision statements originated from a sermon I heard by Joe Boerman, former senior pastor at Immanuel Church in Gurnee, IL. Pastor Joe (as we called him) was doing a series of lessons from the book of Nehemiah. The series was addressing the subject of Leadership, but it was packed full of great insight for amazing vision statements.
Think about it, Nehemiah had the responsibility (called on him by God) to rebuild the walls and gates that had been destroyed around the city of Jerusalem. That was not only a massive responsibility but a huge task especially when you consider that the people of Jerusalem had become comfortable with seeing the crumbled and burned out walls for 80 years.
That is not unlike what we experience in our current lives. For example, how many times do you drive down a road and notice the litter? Do you stop to pick it up or do you continue on your way? Have you ever driven by it day in and day out until it no longer even registers with your brain that there is litter collecting alongside the roadway? Have you ever thought to gather a group of people together and convince them to spend one day a month picking up the litter? How would you convince them that this was a good thing to do? How would you get them to continue doing it month after month after month?
Gathering people together, getting them all on the same page and leading them to do something are the kinds of the things we look at a Vision statement to do for an organization. According to Andy Stanley, a vision should be “a solution to a problem that must be addressed immediately”.
For Nehemiah, it was clear. God ordered the walls and gates to be rebuilt and for it to be done now! So as the leaders of our organizations, we can take a lesson from Nehemiah that it is important to motivate the organization. A vision statement requires a compelling reason to be in existence. Going back to the roadway litter example, would you encourage people to pick up the litter – because it is their civic duty; because litter looks bad; because litter is a poor reflection of the neighborhood; because litter is smelly; because litter is blowing into the roadway and becoming a traffic distraction; or some other reason? Your Vision statement should motivate your organization with the incentive to start.
Think back to when you decided to start your business. What motivated you? What was your incentive to make that very first step? What is it that you are out to accomplish?