How to Make Sense of Vision, Purpose and Strategy
We get this question all the time: If my company has vision and strategy, why do we need a purpose? Or: We have all these different definitions in place but employees feel overwhelmed and don't understand what these terms exactly are useful for.
As part of every engagement where we develop a strategy we find common ground about the definitions and understanding of these terms. Because there is endless literature about each of these terms from different intellectual schools, we want to share our understanding at Leap and how we use it in our everyday client work.
Purpose defines why you exist in this world. It declares your ambition, guides smart business decisions, and inspires your employees. It is enduring and thus makes room for expanding business possibilities.
A purpose typically doesn't talk about your products or services – it captures a higher ideal, the North Star or raison d'être of the organization.
For example AirBnB «Imagines a world where you can belong anywhere.».
Vision articulates your near-term aspiration. It informs your strategy, telling you what you will and won‘t do, aligning resources and focusing.
While purpose is describing an enduring idea, vision captures the attainable goal (what) that you want to reach in the next years. It is something you work against, a goal you will (hopefully) reach so you can set the next one.
Vision is more rational and often includes a specific market position, growth or status in customers' minds (e.g. become the most trusted brand in our segment).
Strategy defines the plan for making your vision real – in line with your purpose, breaking it down into actionable steps that can be measured and adjusted.
Typically you will find the most relevant areas where the company will focus on, where it will invest and what initiatives will bring it to life.
Values are how we live our purpose every day. They guide how we work and behave – with customers, our partners, our stakeholders, and ourselves.
Values set the boundaries in which the the organization wants to act, which behavior is accepted and which not. Well crafted values are specific enough the measure everyday work against and help to take decisions.
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