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V + M = Winning

“What your startup does best, how it creates value, and the focus (capabilities that matter).”


Collins and Porras define two different aspects of vision: Core Identity and Envisioned Future. Vision is an image of how the organization sees itself.

An aspiration the organization holds for its future (although difficult to achieve), which provides direction.

Shared vision in an organization, integrates the effort towards a future state. Effective strategic management in a startup should begin with the organization articulating the vision for the future (long term intentions which are broad, inclusive, and futuristic).


Commonly agreed characteristics of strategic vision include:

  1. It is a desirable future (big picture of the future of the organization).
  2. It is brief.
  3. It is clear, and relatively stable over time.
  4. It is considered necessary for effective leadership, and is challenging enough to inspire organizational members.
  5. It is a process of inducing others to work together in achieving a common goal.
  6. It involves a desirable outcome, which is achievable with time.

Vision + Mission

Elements of the Vision and Mission are often combined to provide a statement of the company’s purposes, goals and values. Bain & Co. suggests that the development process for writing Vision and Mission statements include:

  1. Clearly identifying the corporate culture, values, strategy and view of the future.
  2. Addressing the commitment the firm has to its key stakeholders, including customers, employees, shareholders and communities.
  3. Ensuring that the objectives are measurable, actionable, and achievable.
  4. Communicating the message in clear, simple and precise language.
  5. Developing buy-in and support throughout the organization.
Desired Goals & Objectives

When the strategic vision is understood, people in the organization can more easily identify what they have to do in the organization, in order to achieve the desired goals and objectives.

Collins and Porras suggest that the strategic vision might be difficult for the organization to actually achieve however;

It provides direction and energy to work towards that envisioned future.

In the Collins and Porras framework for vision, the final element is a ‘vivid description‘ or picture of the end-state that completion of the mission represents (North Star). This  end-state is essential for bringing the mission to life. A vivid description also gives the mission the ability to inspire and motivate. The main elements of the Collins and Porras vision framework contains:

Core Beliefs and Values + Purpose = Guiding Philosophy

Mission + Vivid Description = Tangible Image

Source: J. Collins and J. Porras, Havard Business Review

Vision & Mission (4:00)

M. Skok

The importance of having a compelling vision and mission. 

NOTE: video starts & stops at pre-assigned times

Documenting Vision

When completing the Vision Worksheet, please keep in mind:

  1. Customer: What are the 3-5 most important qualities that best describe the people you are trying to reach?
  2. Channels: How will you access your customers?
  3. Need: What is the actual problem you are solving, and utility you are providing?
  4. Emotion: Are you providing an emotional value to someone (define it)?
  5. Product Function: How is your product the best solution for the specific purpose it serves (core competence, solve pain-point etc.)?
  6. Business Model: Which model fits best what you’re creating?
  7. Differentiation: What makes you special (does that ‘special’ have real value for the customer)?
  8. Advantage: Strengths relative to competition?
  9. Team: What are their complimentary roles (not redundant roles).
  10. Partners: Competitive advantage they prove (why and how)?
  11. Sunk Costs: Investment required to be ready to serve customers?
  12. Working Capital: Payable/Receivable Gap, and capital needed to ‘float’ the spread (specify time period).


– V –

“Define vision before implementation (the what and why).”

The most important element of vision is that you are creating a compelling statement which unites people.

The value of the vision creation ‘process’ (when done together with other founders/employees), is that it forces clarity (who is customer being served, and what is the primary activity of the startup).

Having a compelling and concise vision will help align the team around a common direction, and support other activities (fundraising etc.).

Vision Worksheet (pdf)

Define Vision Now!

CC3.0 Cabage & Zhang
Course Curator: Dr. Gerard L. Danford

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