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What good is a vision, huh?

July 2, 2015 – by Jeroen Geelhoed &samhoud consultancy

What good is a vision? This commonly asked vision-related question elicits a variety of responses. Some people are highly enthusiastic about having a vision while others criticise it as drivel or idle dreams. Time to first take a level-headed look at the usefulness and effect of a vision, using surveys conducted by &samhoud itself as well several others carried out over the past 15 years.

First of all, you can examine the qualitative effects that a vision has within an organisation. A good vision provides:

  1. Meaning: A vision gives a meaningful framework within which people can orient themselves. It provides a response to what exactly we all busy doing. It places day-to-day activities into a wider context. A vision therefore offers inspiration.
  2. Objectives: A vision clarifies the direction in which the organisation wishes to go. It also defines an audacious goal, which embodies ambitions. A vision acts as a compass for every action that is undertaken.
  3. Connection: A vision connects people through common goals and values. This feeling of connection also turns a vision into a source of inspiration. A vision integrates and inspires.
  4. Energy: A vision ensures movement and steers activities. A vision gives direction. You also notice it the moment you enter a visionary organisation: something is happening here, there is energy.
  5. Assessment criteria: A vision provides the criteria people can use to make decisions, such as deciding about investments or which job applicant to hire. A good vision also allows you to assess and rate employee behaviour more effectively and verify improvements. A good vision therefore simplifies the assessment and decision-making processes.

In addition to the more qualitative functions of a vision, there are also hard and measurable effects. In our organisational vision survey, 53% of managers indicate that visions ensure positive effects within their organisation. And a large percentage (38%) believe that the organisational vision has ‘more or less’ had an effect. What then are these effects? Organisations in which the vision lives score 45% higher for innovation, 50% higher for employee engagement, and 34% higher with respect to ‘my organisation achieves strong growth and profits’. Organisations in which the vision lives score 43% higher in relation to having a common goal.

Great awareness of the vision

And we can go on and on. Performance is significantly better on all fronts wherever a great awareness of the vision exists within the organisation. A 16% increase in customer satisfaction is reported, for example. From the employee’s perspective, higher scores are seen for employee satisfaction (+36%) and productivity (+22%). The differences are also evident on a financial level. This relates to increased growth (+125%), greater profit (+29%) and more growth in shareholder value (+18%), as illustrated in the diagram below. In other words, the value of an inspirational vision that truly lives within the organisation should not be underestimated.

Would you like to know more about discovering your organisation’s vision? Click here:
&samhoud consultancy – vision and strategy development    or
&samhoud consultancy – visie en strategie ontwikkeling


Sources: Vision Research &samhoud (2006 & 2010), International Value Creation Research &samhoud (2014); Kus de visie wakker (Van der Loo, Geelhoed & Samhoud, 2007), The committed enterprise (Davidson, 2002), Work Study (Watson Wyatt, 2002); Culture of Purpose (Deloitte, 2014) Guiding growth (Lipton, 2003), Shared Purpose; the Golden Thread?’ (CIPD, 2010)

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