Why Traditional Vision Statements Don’t Work (And What To Do Instead)

Why Traditional Vision Statements Don’t Work (And What To Do Instead) 

By Glenn A. Williams


In “Chapter 2 – Defining Vision” of my book Visioning, I explain the difference between a vision and a vision statement.

  • A vision statement succinctly describes an idea with passion and inspiration. It stimulates thinking by presenting an image. It should be fun to read and trigger emotional and sensory reactions. It distills the essence of an inspiring idea into a few words.
  • A vision is something different. It is something even more detailed and personal. It is a picture of the future at a specific and meaningful point in time. This kind of vision tells a story. It is written in the present tense – as if it were already real. A vision’s voice is clear and confident, as it sets about describing the most important elements of how a desired reality looks. It demonstrates the courage to commit to and express the finer detail of how life looks. It defines what success looks like. 

In my experience, vision comes before a vision statement – not the other way around. This is a common mistake I see executives and boards make in leading and governing their enterprises.

I came across a short 7:42 min segment of a podcast on the Shopify website with Cameron Herold on creating a vivid vision for your business:

  • Hear why most traditional vision statements are downright ineffective
  • Learn about vivid vision documents and how they can help you plan your business' future
  • Get access to helpful templates and documents that will help you write your own vivid vision

The focus of my book Visioning is on the application of the process visioning to a person’s entire life. The intention – if you can apply visioning at an individual level, your capacity to lead strategic dialogue in the office on visioning for your organisation will be greatly enhanced.

You can listen to Cameron talk about how he helps business clients engage with their vision and access additional tools below.