Vision, Objectives & Goals

By Nazish Sohail

Introduction
Vision is an aspirational description of what an organization would like to achieve or accomplish in the mid-term or long-term future. It serves as the basis for all missions, values, objectives and goals of an organization. Vision and strategy are both important and related. But there is a priority to them. Vision always comes first. If you have a clear vision, you will eventually attract the right strategy. If you have no vision, no strategy will save you.

What is Vision?
As discussed above, vision is a clear and succinct description of what an organization should look like after it successfully implements its strategies and achieves its full potential. It is an expression about what an organization is wanted to be a preferred future, a word or future picture of an organization. A Vision statement for an organization should include an organization‟s:        Mission Basic philosophy, core values or cultural features Goals (if established) Basic strategies Performance criteria Important decision making rules Ethical standards of all employees

However, due to the generally prevailing non-understanding of the term, vision is usually understood differently by different people. Such a phenomenon has led some of the modern writers to label this concept as “so - well-fuzzy, unclear and impractical”. A reference was made in this regard to Jim Collin‟s book “Built to Last” which reads as follows: “For one thing, the term “vision” had been tossed around by so many people and used in so many different ways that it created more confusion than clarification. Some viewed vision as about having a crystal-ball picture of the future marketplace. Others thought in terms of a technology or product vision, such as the Macintosh computer. Still
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others emphasized a vision of the organization-values, purpose, mission, goals, and images of an idealized workplace. Talk about a muddled mess! No wonder so many hardnosed practical businesspeople were highly skeptical of the whole notion of vision; it just seemed so –well--fuzzy, unclear and impractical.”

Vision Statement
Vision statement is an inspirational description of what and organization would like to achieve and/or accomplish in the mid-term or long-term future. It is intended to serve as a clear guide for choosing current and future courses of action. A vision statement is sometimes called a picture of your organization in the future but it‟s so much more than that. Your vision statement is your inspiration, the framework for all your strategic planning. It is in fact the reason for the existence of any organization. A vision statement may apply to an entire organization or to a single person. Whether for all or part of an organization, the vision statement answers the question, "Where do we want to go?" A comparison between taking the idea of vision as “a reason for the existence of an organization” and as “so-well-fuzzy, unclear and impractical” would make us understand that whichever perspective of the concept of vision is taken up by an organization to describe the reason for its existence, can serve as the vision of that organization.

Characteristics of a Vision
Whatever perspective taken from, vision of an organization should have the following characteristics: i. Attainability: What is the possibility of achieving your vision within available resources? ii. Lucidity: An articulation of the vision which explains the main idea in clear and unambiguous terms. iii. Concreteness: The number of quantifiable elements and degree of quantification in those elements.
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iv.

Clarity: Clarity is defined as a vision having high lucidity and appropriate concreteness.

Mission
A mission statement defines what an organization is and why it exists. It is in fact a written declaration of an organization's core purpose and focus of operations that normally remains unchanged over time. Properly crafted mission statementsserve as filters to separate what is important from what is not,clearly state the targets to be served upon and how and communicate a sense of intended direction to the entire organization.

Vision vs. Mission
Mission of an organization differs from its vision. The Vision is always more broad and future oriented with clear goals on the horizon. Whereas, the Mission is always more focused providing with the details of how you will get to the horizon? In other words, a Mission is different from a Vision in that the former is the causeand the latter is the effect. Broadly speaking, following are the main areas of difference of a Vision from a Mission: • Vision concerns an organization's future organizational path • “where we are going” – Kind of organization that management is trying to create – which audience to be pursued – Future technologyproduct-customer focus
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Mission focuses on current operational activities

• “who we are and what we do” – Current product and service offerings – Customer needs being served – Technological and business capabilities

Objective
A Vision is also different from objective of an organization. Objective of an organization is in factan ends that can be reasonably achieved within an expected timeframe and with available resources. It is also different from a goal. In general, an objective is broader in scope than a goal, and may consist of several individual goals. Objectives are basic tools that underlie all planning and strategic activities. They serve as the basis for policy and performance appraisals.

Goal
Similarly, a goal is an observable and measurable end result having one or more objectives to be achieved within a fixed timeframe.Goals should meet the S.M.A.R.T. (i.e. they should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timebound)

Vision vs. Organizational Strategy
A question may arise here as to the relation between Vision and organizational strategy? The best answer to this can be that Vision is to know where you want to go and Strategy is to know how to get there. It can also be described as the end and means and effect and cause as well. The following diagram shall elaborate how this strategic decisions are made at various organizational levels.

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Examples of Organizational Vision
Following are a few examples of how can vision of the same organization, based on its future aims and set goals, be different in different circumstances: a) Example 1  We believe that education must provide an environment in which all students are respected and have equal access and opportunity.

b) Example 2  We believe that education must be flexible and responsive to the changing needs of students, the community, and society.

c) Example 3  We believe that schools must provide a comprehensive, focused education which challenges the whole student.

Vision and Strategic Planning-Linkage
Vision and strategic planning of an organization are very strongly linked together. In fact every strategy and planning of an organization flow from its vision. They are all dependent upon the nature and type of the vision. The example of the education Department of Singapore can be of relevancy here whose vision is: “To create thinking schools” This itself tells us the story of what was the in the mind of the relevant offices behind the working of Singapore Education Department and this will serve as the very basis for formulation of all strategies and plans of this department to achieve this vision. A few examples of this strong linkage between the vision and strategic directions of an organization can also be understood from the following examples: a. Nike  1960s: Crush Adidas  Current: To be the number one athletic company in the world
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b. Honda  1970: We will destroy Yamaha  Current: To Be a Company that Our Shareholders, Customers and Society Want c. Sony  1950s: Become the Company most known for changing the worldwide poor-quality image of Japanese products  Current: Sony is a leading manufacturer of audio, video, communications, and information technology products for the consumer and professional markets. Its motion picture, television, computer entertainment, music and online businesses make Sony one of the most

comprehensive entertainment companies in the world. d. Ford   Early 1900s: Democratize the automobile Current: To become the world's leading Consumer Company for automotive products and services. The following diagram also shows all missions, objectives, values and goals of an organization always revolve around its core which is its vision.

Mission

Goals

Vision

Objective

Values

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Functions of a Vision
In brief, the following important functions are performed by the vision of an organization: i. ii. iii. iv. v. It gives direction. A vision greatly reduces the risk of realizing the worst case scenarios. It gives motivation. It helps us fight adversity. If we don‟t have a clear vision, we risk becoming the instruments of an undesired vision. vi. It helps us select our roles.

In fact those functions become even more important when we consider that what possible questions will be asked from the organization after 10 years/20 years? Those questions will definitely revolve around the set objectives of that organization and its achievements. Both of them can neither be assessed nor answered without a clear vision created earlier.

What is my Vision?
Bringing down the concept of vision from an organizational level to an individual level, the following questions may guide an individual to create his own personal vision:         According to my Vision of life, what are my first three priorities in life? What was the most satisfying moment of my life? What was the worse moment of my life? What is my age? How long do I expect to live? (according to average life span in Pakistan) How many years do I have left? What if I am diagnosed with a dreaded disease and doctor gives me a life span of 3 months; what will be my three top priorities? What will be your one wish you will like to accomplish if a robber puts a gun to your face, and you are sure he will pull the trigger?
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 

If I die today and look back at my life from the graveyard; can I say that I have accomplished the goals of my life? If I get a new life, what will be my top three priorities in life?

Creation / identification of a personal Vision will lead an individual to lead ameaningful life. His life would become ever more if he considers answering to questions like below to know what his personal vision should be like: a. Would you like to look back at your life at the time of your death and exclaim: „It was worth it?‟   Yes No

b. Suppose we are mentioned after our death in a gathering of a group of people with knowledge and wisdom. What would we like them to say about us?

The creation / identification of our personal vision will help in playing a balancing role in our live. Such roles, which are to be in line with our visions, will ensure that our performance in any of our roles, mandated or elective, must not fall below the Minimum Performance Levels (MPLs) dictated by Islam (Islamic Paradigm).

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