Shaping your Company Vision

A 5 minutes read
Shaping your Company Vision
Ross Haddow

Focus the mind of management and staff on what your company stands for and how you want it to develop

The tool

The Vision tool is based on the insight that successful companies have a clear understanding of two key aspects of their business:

  • They have a core ideology (made up of core values and core purpose) that doesn’t change (even though products, services and other aspects of their business may).
  • They have an envisioned future that is articulated in a ‘big, hairy, audacious goal’ (BHAG). The feeling of what it will be like to achieve such a goal is normally set down in a vivid description.

The combination of these elements has been shown to deliver long-term success and a company culture that encourages staff loyalty. As you’ll see the tool takes the form of the yin and yang symbol. The use of this design is explained by the Harvard Business Review:

‘A well-conceived vision consists of two major components: core ideology and envisioned future. Core ideology, the yin in our scheme, defines what we stand for and why we exist. Yin is unchanging and complements yang, the envisioned future. The envisioned future is what we aspire to become, to achieve, to create—something that will require significant change and progress to attain.’

Why use it

This tool really helps to focus the mind of management and staff on what a company stands for and how it wants to develop.

  • The idea of a core ideology may seem like a concept that is too big an ‘ask’, especially for a small company that is just starting out. However, articulating business ideology in terms of core values and core purpose is vital – as it nails down what a company stands for and why it exists.
  • A deeply held core ideology gives a company both a strong sense of identity and a thread of continuity that holds the organization together in the face of change. In addition, by being clear about their core values and guiding purpose companies can feel liberated to experiment with everything else.
  • The concept of an envision future is really inspiring and provides an opportunity for management and staff to really think about what goal they are working for as a team.

Overall the vision tool provides an invaluable addition to the strategy development process, one that goes above and beyond the financial goals and objectives that are often the cornerstone of a growth strategy.

The tool can be used at any stage in a company’s life – for a start-up it is a powerful tool to provide a foundation for future growth, for companies that need a new lease of life it can be central to the process of re-focusing and cutting away aspects of an organisation that are no longer relevant or which are actively getting in the way.

How to use it

The tool is a spur for discussion. You may want to use it as the focus of a series of brainstorming sessions amongst staff and managers.

Using the tool involves discussion of the four elements inside the yin and yang signs:


  • Core Values
  • Core Purpose


  • BHAG
  • Vivid Description
Company Vision

Download this model as visual aid for your session


Do the following four steps:

1. Create your organisation’s core values:

  • Highlight that Core values are the handful of beliefs, guiding principles or tenets that are absolutely non-negotiable within an organisation. They never change.
  • Imagine your organisation as a person and ask ‘what does your organisation really believe in?’
  • KEEP IN MIND: this is not a wordsmithing exercise. This is an exercise to capture the authentic core values of your organisation, not to create a “pretty statement”.
  • The discussion can be focused in any number of ways, but why not start by getting participants to generate a list of core values? Capture the common ones on a flip chart and then talk them through until you get a list you all agree with.

2. Create your organisation’s core purpose:

  • Highlight that a core purpose is similar to core values: it is fundamental to an organization. It is a deeply held belief and unchanging. A core purpose can be described as your organisation’s ‘most fundamental reason for being’. It should not be confused with product lines, services or customers, purpose motivates and inspires.
  • Again, the discussion can be focused in any number of ways, but why not start by getting participants to spend 5-10 mins writing a statement of purpose. Read them out and use them to develop a statement everyone can get behind.

3. Create your organisation’s BHAG – Set a 10- to 30-year big, hairy, audacious goal!

  • Explain that the BHAG process is about goal setting. It is about picking a goal that will stimulate change and progress. It is not about writing a ‘mission statement.’ It is about going on a mission!
  • Again, the discussion can be focused in any number of ways, but why not start by getting participants to spend 5-10 mins generating ideas. Then, as a group, select or create a 10-to 30-year BHAG for the organization that is linked back to the core purpose.
  • The BHAG should be concise (usually no more than a sentence or phrase).

4. Create your organisation’s Vivid Description:

  • Explain that a vivid description is an organisation’s opportunity to express in detail what it will feel like to achieve its goal. A vivid description is essential to making a BHAG tangible.
  • Describing the achievement of the BHAG is about ‘painting a picture with words’ - a ‘vibrant, engaging’ picture that brings your goal to life.
  • Get each person to take 10 mins to envision and write an article about the organisation that they would love to see published 15 years from now. Remember, the purpose of this task is to get people thinking about the kind of future they want for their company.
  • Transform the three to five most exciting vivid snippets from your articles into vivid descriptions that bring the envisioned future to life. Write these on a flip chart.