• Derrek Ehrlich

Why Your Vision Doesn't Work

Do you have a #Vision and #Mission for your company that just can't seem to gain the traction you expect? Do your employees and customers either not know it well enough or not care about its importance?

It seems the norm nowadays that every company has a Vision, or a Mission, or hopefully both. But it rarely seems to do what it's supposed to.

Maybe you have a Vision and Mission you want to be more effective, or you have one that's relatively effective that you want to strengthen, or maybe you're in the process of creating one for your business. If you fall into any of those categories, this article is for you.

Before talking about how we can make a Vision and Mission more effective, let's take a step back to answer a couple more fundamental questions: What is a Vision and and what is a Mission? How do they relate? And what impact are they supposed to have?

What is a Vision and Mission?

Every company should have both a Vision and a Mission. They are completely separate and serve totally different purposes.

  • A Vision is aspirational. It gives a glimpse into the future of a more perfect world. Specifically, the more perfect world your company is working to create. Visions should never mention the present moment.

  • A Mission is tactical and present. Put simply, it answers the question, "How do you go about achieving your Vision?" Missions should never mention the future.

But why even go to the trouble of creating Vision and Mission statements?

Imagine this—in a perfect world, how would your Vision and Mission impact your company? More than likely you would want it to inspire and motivate current employees, attract new employees, and be the reason your customers choose you over the competition. Also, it would likely represent your purpose as a company and the impact you hope to have on the world.

How To Make Your Vision Effective

Let's dive into the meat of this article--Your Vision and Mission aren't working, so how do you make it work?

First, answer this question honestly: How did you create your Vision?

Was it from a worksheet (e.g. like the one in Gino Wickman's book, Traction)? Did you create it based on what you think or what you think your employees/customers want to hear?

Reason #1

Remember, a Vision is aspirational and meant to communicate purpose and inspire people. Reason #1 that your Vision isn't working as well as you wanted is that you likely created it with your head and not your heart. Fundamentally, you're trying to communicate with the hearts of your employees and customers because things like purpose and inspiration stem from one's heart. If you want people to buy into what you're saying, communicate from your heart to theirs, not from your head to their heart.

Let's look at a few examples. As you read through these, ask yourself these three questions: Does this inspire me? Does this make me want to work there? Does this make me want to support this business?

  • To give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly without barriers*.

  • To change the way the world communicates*.

  • To devote its talent and technology to creating superior products and services that contribute to a better global society*.

  • To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world (*if you have a body, you are an athlete)*.

  • Building our legend and leading our industry through innovation, evolution and emotion*.

  • To be the trusted performance leader that unleashes the potential of data*.

  • To build healthier communities by connecting people to real food*.

Some of these do much better jobs at connecting with you than others. That is because some of them were created from someone's heart, whereas others were created from someone's head.

OneHive has a Vision Development program that allows you to articulate a Vision that comes from your heart. To learn more, please send us a message.

Reason #2

Reason #2 that your Vision isn't working as well as you wanted is because you're not saying it enough. Your Vision needs to be the heartbeat of your company. It needs to be the drummer's rhythm that all the troops march to (including yourself!). It needs to be plastered all over your walls, said out loud in meetings, and explained way more times than you think necessary.

This experiment proves why this overcommunication is necessary:

Tappers & Listeners: Elizabeth Newton was a Stanford graduate student that conducted this experiemnt in 1990. She assigned people to be in two groups. One was the "Tapper" and the other was the "Listener."

Each Tapper was to pick any well-known song (such as Happy Birthday, Wheels On The Bus, Mary Had A Little Lamb, etc.) and tap the rhythm on a table. The respective Listener was to guess what song they were tapping.

What percentage of Listeners do you think guessed the correct song?

This very question was asked to every Tapper. On average, Tappers predicted 50% of the Listeners would guess the correct song. In reality, 2.5% of Listeners guessed the correct song.


When a Tapper taps, they sing the song in their head as they tap along, so the answer seems obvious. When a Listener listens, they just hear some random taps, a strange Morse code, and only guess correctly 1 out of every 40 times.

Your Vision is like a song, except it is a song no one else knows. Throughout your workday, you "tap" the rhythm by carrying out actions, making decisions, and assigning tasks. But, you also need to sing the song if you want others to know it.

Overcommunicate your Vision.

Reason #3

Reason #3 that your Vision isn't working as well as you wanted is because you're not doing it enough. You can say whatever you want, but we all know that actions speak louder than words. Your Vision needs to be lived by everyone, but most importantly by you.

There has been one company I've worked for that I knew the Vision off the top of my head, but they had this problem. They have an inspiring Vision that is the beating heart of the company and everyone knows it. But that never translated into action. We had company Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), department goals, and team goals. But the thing is that none of these goals, literally zero, had any direct tie to the Vision. For the life of me, it seemed our company Vision and

goals were completely unrelated.

This can NOT happen because it shows a misalignment between actions and words. This comes across in a manipulative or deceitful way to your employees. It's also highly confusing, as employees at large lose an understanding of if they're supposed to be guided by your words or your actions.

Every single goal at every single level of your company needs to tie back to your Vision. And it needs to be painfully obvious. Just because something makes sense to you doesn't mean that everyone, especially your individual contributors that live in the weeds, sees it (remember Tappers & Listeners). Help people see how the company goals contribute towards the heart-centered Vision your company runs on. Help people understand how their individual goals contributed towards the Vision.

If you do these 3 things: 1) create a Vision from your heart, 2) overcommunicate it to everyone, and 3) live it in everything you create and do, your Vision will come to life. Not only will your employees and customers love you for it, but you'll likely find more meaning in your work!

As I previously mentioned, OneHive does have a Vision Development program to help you create a heart-centered Vision that perfectly aligns with what you are hoping to achieve with your company.

We also have a Culture Workshop where a portion covers many more actions you can take to ensure your Vision takes root and launches everyone in the same direction. If either of these programs sound interesting to you, please don't hesitate to Contact Us.

If you have any questions, or thoughts on what another article should be, please do drop them in the comments!

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