Very early in the strategy-making process, a company’s senior managers must wrestle with the issue of what directional path the company should take and what changes in the company’s product-market-customer-technology focus would improve its current market position and future prospects. A number of direction-shaping factors need to be considered in deciding where to head and why such a direction makes good business. Top management’s views and conclusions about the company’s direction and the product-consumer-market-technology focus constitute a strategic vision. A strategic vision delineates management’s aspirations for the business, providing a panoramic view of “where are we going” and a convincing rationale for why this makes good business sense for the company. A strategic vision points an organization in a particular direction, charts a strategic path for it to follow in preparing for the future, and molds organizational identity.
A clearly articulated strategic vision communicates management’s aspirations to stakeholders and helps steer the energies of company personnel in a common direction. Well-conceived visions are distinctive and specific to a particular organization; they avoid generic, feel-good statements. For a strategic vision to function as a valuable managerial tool, it must provide understanding of what management wants its business to look like and provide managers with a reference point in making strategic decisions and preparing the company for the future. Having a vision is not a panacea but rather a useful management tool for giving an organization a sense of direction. Like any tool, it can be used properly or improperly, either conveying a company’s strategic course or not.
CORE CONCEPT: A strategic vision is a roadmap showing the route a company intends to take in developing and strengthening its business. It paints a picture of a company’s destination and provides a rationale for going there.
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