Vision statements and critical thinking

Vision statements and critical thinking.

Vision statements are a vital component of any successful organisation. But they are difficult to get right.

For a vision statement is the guide post for any organisation, whether a for, or not-for profit. The vision statement is the reference point for all decisions. It provides that overarching theme, if you will, around which all those the support the organisation can channel their effort. Those words say “this is what we are going to be”.

It is indeed, the “nailing of your colours to the mast”.

Now, lets apply the art of critical thinking to the development of a vision statement. For while this set of words is comprised of three components, the composition of these words and their subsequent impact must be thought through.

Briefly, the three components of a vision statement are: 1. your values; 2. your stakeholders;  and 3. your envisioned future state.

Regarding values, what do you stand for? What do you hold dear? What do you want to be known for? Regarding stakeholders, who are they? Who are you serving? Who is being affected by your decisions? And thirdly, that envisioned future state. What does success look like? What are you continually striving for?

Let’s layer in critical thinking to this vision statement discussion.

The ability to think critically is crucial, it is a competitive advantage, it is something that is uniquely human. It will keep you in employment for years to come. But what is it? Is it just taking the time to mull over something? Yes, and no. While there are 8 components to critical thinking I’ll use four of them to help us with our vision statement development.

Four aspects of critical thinking:

  1. purpose
  2. question
  3. assumptions
  4. inferences

And each of these aspects have a set of questions.

First, regarding purpose. The questions are: “what exactly are you trying to accomplish?”, “What exactly is the point of the process?”

Second, regarding question. The questions are: “is the problem or issue stated clearly?”, “Is everybody on the same page?”

Third, regarding assumptions. The questions are: “on what information are you basing your discussions?”, “What aspects do you consider as a given?”

Finally, regarding inferences. The questions are: “what conclusions will be drawn from your words?”, “What meaning will be created?”

So, in thinking about the values component of your vision statement. What is the true purpose of your organisation? Does everybody believe the same thing about your organisation?

With respect to your stakeholders. What are you assuming about them? What is their purpose in being one of your stakeholders?

Finally, when it comes your future state. How will you know you are on the right track? What meaning will be created regarding your aims from the words you choose to include in your vision statement?

So you can see critical thinking does take effort. It does take time.

I believe that Einstein’s words hold true here:  “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”

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