Vision Statements

Vision Statements are synonymous with the expedition charter (business plan), which ultimately determines the success of an organization in terms of financial and non-financial performance.

Vision Statement

Definition: a succinct phrase describing the clear and inspirational long-term desired change resulting from an organization or program’s initiative. The purpose of the vision statement is 1) to create an image in the minds of investors, customers, managers, and diggers of a destination (goal), and its arrival date, and 2) to establish an easy-to-remember mantra of words to keep everyone focused on the goal. In short, the vision statement must be both memorable and measurable.

For many employees and crew resources (diggers especially), a vision statement is viewed as an embellished proclamation of an organization’s attempt to market itself to external customers, rather than empowering its internal resources (employees and crew). Furthermore, the vision statement is often confused with, or compared to, a mission or value statement; both of which are viewed similarly as flowery declarations. It’s important, therefore, not only to understand the difference between a vision statement and a mission statement, but rather to create them in such a way that they are memorable and measurable. In addition, contrary to what you may have understood in the past, the vision statement—at least for an expedition charter—is always created by the leader without any support from their subordinate managers or diggers.

The reason for this is that the leader, who establishes the goal (the expedition’s destination and arrival date to which managers and diggers will strive to achieve through their mission), is the only person qualified to make an effective and risk mitigated statement, given his or her accountability for the expedition charter itself. But keep in mind, failure to achieve the goal will result in the captain going down with the ship, so to speak. Success in achieving the goal, on the other hand, should result in the crew being credited for its success (risk versus reward, as it were).

How to create a Vision Statement
  • Begin with the end in mind – find an inspirational location where you (and your board of directors, if appropriate) can visualize the end goal.
  • Bring your vision to life – conceptualize, illustrate, and create a physical model, video, brochure; or, employ any number of methods to allow your followers, customers, or investors to see what you see in your mind as a future destination. Make it exciting and inspiring, daring, but not dangerous (especially if you’re trying to impress investors). Refer to other such examples, e.g., a computer in every household, a resort hotel in Bali, mobile phone apps for the handicapped, transportation systems, jobs for everyone; all of which were, and still are, exciting, promises to make our lives more enjoyable, profitable, and/or secure. Remember, people will follow an inspirational leader to the end of the world if they see the vision, and believe it will value them personally.
  • Set the expectations – establish the goals by which you will aim, navigate, and measure (mission) to achieve your vision, e.g., sales projections, cash flow, and date to which you will achieve your vision.

Captain Cèo’s vision statement reads: The crew of the HpO Vision will establish a sustainable supply of nickel concentrate at 90,000 tons/year before year-end, 1827.

Captain Cèo’s vision statement is memorable (less than twenty words) and measurable (quality of copper concentrate and supply date). In addition, safety, reliability, budget and crew turnover measurements will be established to support the expedition charter, which is discussed in Treasure Five (Navigational Aids).

Here is one of the best examples of a vision statement, based on an actual expedition: When John F. Kennedy became president in January 1961, Americans had the perception that the United States was losing the “space race” with the Soviets.[i] The Soviet Union had almost four years earlier successfully launched the Sputnik. Yuri Gagarin, a Russian cosmonaut, became the first man in space that April. President Kennedy understood the need and had the vision of surpassing the Soviets. On May 25, 1961, he stood before Congress and proclaimed that “this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.[ii]

[i] “1962-09-12 Rice University.” John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2013.

[ii] Howard E. McCurdy, et al. “Helpful Lessons From The Space Race.” Issues In Science & Technology 27.4 (2011): 19-22. Academic Search Premier. Web. 23 Oct. 2013.


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