What Makes a Good Vision?

Agile methods pay lip service to vision, but they artfully dodge the important question of what a vision is.

For example, the Scrum Guide 2017 contains the word “vision” exactly once, in this sentence describing each product increment: “The increment is a step toward a vision or goal”.

A dictionary definition of vision: “An imagined idea or a goal toward which one aspires”.

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What are the characteristics of a good vision?

Put simply, a good vision is a short and easily understood statement of the value a product will provide to its customers.

A vision should trigger a positive emotional response and it should state how you will change the world for the better.

Some good examples of vision statements:

  • “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – Google
  • “To be the fabric of real-time communication on the web” – Skype
  • “To give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected” – Facebook
  • “Make people happy” – Disney (original)

Even though the last example is probably too generic, contrast it with the 2018 Disney mission statement:

“The mission of The Walt Disney Company is to be one of the world’s leading producers and providers of entertainment and information. Using our portfolio of brands to differentiate our content, services and consumer products, we seek to develop the most creative, innovative and profitable entertainment experiences and related products in the world.”

Clearly Disney has a bad case of corporate-speak. Their 2018 vision statement fails on every measure: it is not short, it is not easily understood, it does not appeal to position emotions, it does not explain the value customers will get, and it does not state how Disney will change the world for the better.

Don’t be like Disney in 2018.

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