What is strategic vision? (And benefits, importance, skills)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published 22 April 2022
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
All business leaders require an understanding of their organisation's strategic vision. This vision is the high-level direction that allows everyone in the organisation to achieve their assigned goals. To develop your understanding of business operations and, in particular, how to use this idea for the purposes of communications and marketing, it helps to approach it using academic frameworks. In this article, we explain what strategic vision is and why it's important, discuss the areas in which it's used, outline how to develop strategic thinking and list some of its benefits.
What is strategic vision and why is it important?
Every business requires a clear strategy to succeed, and developing this strategy is the goal of strategic vision. Planning a strategy is especially important in today's competitive market environment, where there are typically few barriers to entry or operation. Brands can quickly gain footholds by using digital technologies to target customer groups, meaning that the fortunes of organisations can change drastically and quickly.
Business leaders use different strategic planning models according to their needs and employ these to develop their own unique strategies. For example, many businesses use The Balanced Scorecard methodology to help craft their strategy, vision, purpose and values, which are all key elements of an overall strategy. Strategic planning exists to pinpoint near-term goals and set employees on the right course to achieving these goals through their work. An organisation's vision is also sometimes referred to as its mission statement. These terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but there are some minor differences between them:
Understanding the mission statement
A mission statement is a timeless and overarching concept that's likely to remain static even if the organisation transforms in a fundamental way. At this level, the statement describes what the organisation does and how it differs from its competitors. Unless the organisation changes completely and does something else entirely, the mission statement is likely to remain as it is for a long while.
Understanding strategic planning
Strategic planning is what supports the mission statement in a more tangible and immediate way. It describes the organisation's desired future state in achievable terms, to help employees and other stakeholders understand and visualise the direction that the organisation is moving in and what to do to help get it there. As a time-bound statement, the strategy is usually refined and recreated over time. Every time the organisation revisits its strategy, it has the opportunity to clarify future goals and instruct employees and departments as appropriate.
Who uses strategic planning?
To an extent, everyone involved in an organisation has to understand its strategy and their role in its achievement. Senior managers are naturally involved in shaping the overall business strategy, as it defines what the organisation wants to do and how to guide employees towards clear goals.
Professionals in marketing and communication specifically work with the concept of strategic planning as part of their responsibilities. They work to transform the vision into messages that employees, customers and other stakeholders can understand. This also creates a uniform format for how to conduct communications between teams and between different departments and levels for the sake of efficiency and productivity. Marketers use the vision as the primary tool in selling a service or product, aligning business goals with concepts like branding and serving a target audience.
Key elements that define a strong vision
Although every vision is naturally different, a well-defined strategy for any business is:
Future-oriented: This helps managers and employees define where the organisation is heading and what its desired end-point looks like.
Unique: This emphasises the organisation's differentiation from the competition and how it might fulfil the needs, wants and desires of customers.
Designed to create urgency and purpose: The vision ideally unites all the organisation's stakeholders.
Motivational and memorable: A good vision appeals to the emotions of managers and employees so that they actively want to play their part in achieving it.
Challenging and inspiring: The vision also encourages everyone to go further in accomplishing their tasks.
Things to consider when crafting a strategy
Every business has its own approach to crafting a strategy. A business creates a vision with a broader framework of strategy development in mind, usually involving annual and quarterly strategy setting and review workshops. Basic points and steps that strategy frameworks follow and recommend for good practices include:
Set clear and tangible goals
Clear and tangible goals allow managers to give teams and employees defined tasks that help achieve strategic milestones. They also allow managers to track their completion. When goals are precise and objectively defined with supporting targets, everyone knows what to do. If your goals are vague or ambiguous, people may not understand what they're supposed to be doing and mistakes may occur. Some businesses use strategy maps to identify and set clear and relevant goals with accompanying KPIs and other metrics to manage and measure them effectively.
Make your goals realistic
When setting goals, try to make them realistic in the approach. Otherwise, employees may lose motivation and focus. Focus on the resources you have available and ask yourself if you can use them to achieve your goal. For example, if you want to be the leader in your particular market, but your biggest competitors have more resources and revenue, you have a huge problem to address. Instead, you may want to adjust your goals to beat more comparable competitors or consolidate your position in a particular market segment to grow it over time.
Remember your mission statement
Your company mission statement is there to guide you as you set strategic and operational efforts. When you develop your vision, make sure it doesn't go against your mission. When these statements don't align, it's very easy for organisations to become conflicted. This can damage your culture and your overall performance.
Be ready to adapt when necessary
Today's markets move fast, and things can change rapidly. A new competitor might enter your space, a technology might disrupt the way you operate or a new piece of legislation might force changes upon your business model. This means that your vision may also change. If you accept this when developing your vision initially, you foster an agile and adaptable organisation that can respond to change and stay alert.
For example, you may aim to review and adjust your vision at least once a year, especially if your organisation is for profit. For non-profit and public sector organisations, your vision may change less frequently, depending on your field.
Communicating your strategy
For marketers and communication professionals, it's essential to communicate your vision carefully and effectively to all stakeholders. These include employees, customers, partners, investors and even suppliers, depending on your business and its model. To get your communication right, try to understand the vision yourself and then craft messaging that's relevant and which resonates with different user groups. Test the messaging to see whether it's understood and has the right emotive intention. You can also experiment with different channels to communicate the vision.
For example, you may use face-to-face briefings with employees so that managers can talk to them about the business strategy and its different elements. You might use the company Intranet and newsletters to highlight key points and start a discussion, with the desired outcome of more people supporting the vision. You might also use visual artwork in office spaces to encourage a supportive, high-performing and cohesive corporate culture. For customers and stakeholders, you might use digital assets and print materials to share key messages.
Benefits of a clear strategy
When a business pinpoints its vision, it can move forward in line with its mission and overall strategy. Note that some of the most successful organisations craft their visions with input from their employees at all levels. This builds morale and ensures that everyone in the organisation has some investment in the business.
For further success, take clear and defined steps to work towards achieving the vision. Set projects that make sense within the allotted timeline. Implement timely reporting with dashboards and other measures, and use automation to make this accurate and easy. Also, keep track of your progress, and don't be afraid to question the strategy if necessary. These are all positive side-effects of having a vision, as having it at the forefront of your business strategy forces all other processes to improve in accordance with it.
Explore more articles
- 10 tips for onboarding customers effectively (with steps)
- What is a correlational study? (And how to do one)
- How to calculate and find mode: steps and examples
- How to invoice a company in 7 steps (plus benefits)
- What is a control chart? (Definition and how to make one)
- What is behaviour driven development? (Tips and examples)
- What is candidate experience? (Plus how to improve it)
- What is a project baseline? (Plus definition and tips)
- How to create an income statement in Excel step-by-step
- What is DMAIC and how can it help with project management?
- Leadership training programme: definition and benefits
- 12 reputation management software to build brand presence