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What is a vision statement?

Confusion often emerges around vision statements: is it a vision for what we want our organization to look like in the future, or a vision for what we want the world to look like (the world in which we are working) in the future? In this video Craig encourages clearing up vision statement confusion at the outset of any long-term planning process.

This video has captions. To see them, click CC on the video screen.

Here’s what Craig says in the video

Hi everybody! Hey it’s Craig Freshley here. A lot of organizations, such as nonprofits or corporations, either have or think that they should have a vision statement.

What is a vision statement? One way of thinking of a vision statement is that it’s a depiction of how we envision the organization to be in the future. It’s a description of the future organization. But there’s another way of thinking of a vision statement, and that is as a depiction of the world as we’d like it to be.

These are two very different ways. And as I work with organizations doing strategic planning or any kind of long-term planning, there’s often confusion about what we mean by a vision statement. My main message here is: decide at the outset which of these two versions of a vision statement you’re going for. I don’t think that either one is wrong.

I will tell you that my preference is for the one that describes the world in which we would like to operate. If you are an organization working on the revitalization of a downtown, your vision statement describes – ideally – what you would like that downtown to be like. And then it’s the mission statement that describes what your organization is going to do about it.

Just be thoughtful from the outset about what you mean when you say a vision statement.

I hope this helps your group make good decisions.

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