Vision Framework

Defining and communicating a vision, mission or purpose can often be harder than it looks.  What is the difference between a mission statement, a vision or a purpose statement?  Even after such a question is answered, we are still left wondering which is most helpful and how we might formulate it.

Jim Collins, a well-known leadership researcher and thinker, looked at some of the world’s best organisations to see what they had in terms of vision frameworks.  Here is what he discovered, with a few tweeks.

Core Ideology

Great organisations understand their core ideology.  This is something that is discovered, not created.  In summary it defines what the organisation (or individual, since this model works there too) is called to be.  It can be split into two parts: values and purpose.  Values describes the things that are important and matter that are not connected with a current strategy or goal.  For the Christian organisation many of these values will come from the bible.  Purpose describes the raison d’etre.  Why does this organisation exist?  The core ideology is like DNA, it is fundamental and unchanging.  Organisation and individuals need to be clear on who they are in order to have a vision that is internally consistent.

Envisioned future

Of course, just understanding our core ideology is not enough in itself.  The other half of the vision framework is an envisioned future.  This is something that is created, rather than discovered as with the core ideology above.  How we might go about creating it is a topic for another post, but great organisations have two key elements to their statement of an envisioned future.  First they have a Big Hairy Audacious Goal.  This is a wild target, which, if achieved, would make a real difference and probably seems out of reach.  It is something to be excited about, but also to be a little scared by.  Second, they have a vivid picture of what life is like when the BHAG is achieved.  This picture inspires us to push on towards fulfilling the goal.


How these things are discerned and what titles they are given varies depending on the situation.  What seems to important is that they exist and that they are understood and owned by the whole organisation.  Clearly, for the Christian the whole process needs to be carried out prayerfully, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

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2 Responses to “Vision Framework”

  1. Helen Armstrong says:

    Interesting Core Purpose must go beyond output, otherwise it stifles creativity, and begins to look more like a goal than a purpose.

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