What exactly is a Vision in business? This might seem a trivial question as everybody is talking about vision and every company has an own appealing vision statement. Nevertheless looking at different companies I sense that there is not the very same understanding about what a vision actually is or should be.
When it comes to defining Vision in business, Wikipedia brings it down to: "in business, vision is foresight - the capacity to envisage future market trends and plan accordingly". On businessdictionary.com we read about Vision Statement: "An aspirational description of what an organization would like to achieve or accomplish in the mid-term or long-term future. It is intended to serve as a clear guide for choosing current and future courses of action."
So we could say that a Vision is how the company sees the future and the Vision Statement has the goal to give direction and decision criteria on a high level, as it signalizes the long term direction based on the Vision.
If we stick to this definition we could say that a company will choose to invest on sustainability if they expect this to become a success factor or a requirement in terms of compliance in the future.
But there is also a second way to understand and embody the concept of Vision. We can consider the Vision about the future, not the result of a reasonable projection, but the ambition of a desired state. This would mean that a company is not following the idea of a probable future but shaping the future they want!
Old school marketers would now think of Apple and Steve Jobes, Personally I think about B-Corps and many other examples of how there is a will to make business Profitable & Sustainable. You may think, what is new about this?, there have always been idealists that where moved by altruism and self-sacrifice... Well the difference is that this generation of entrepreneurs and companies are strictly profit oriented and that they act out of genuine selfishness: they are longsighted selfish business people who know that shaping a fair economic society will benefit their business first, that reducing their environmental impact will raise the quality of their food, that adding value to the world makes it a better place for them at first!
Personally I prefer to take this second approach and consider myself, our company and our clients as protagonists in a journey that shapes the future rather than spending my professional and personal life following some projection about the market.
So what is Your Vision?