It’s unusual to think of a corporate vision statement as a powerful UX tool — possibly because it’s unusual to think about the corporate vision statement at all.
These written-by-committee generic statements of where the organization might go in the future feel like an easy thing for everyone to ignore. And most people do. But, maybe we shouldn’t.
Vision statements are often drafted by an organization’s senior leadership. They use the statement to signal to customers, investors, analysts, and others where they think the organization will go. The senior leadership wants to give others a reason to choose their organization beyond just what exists today. The vision statement is the promise of tomorrow.
Typically, the corporate vision authors work to keep their statement vague. It needs to explain how the organization is different from any competitors. Yet, tomorrow is a long way away, and leadership doesn’t want to make promises they can’t keep. That’s why making it vague works to their advantage.
Fortunately, it’s the inherent ambiguity that works in our favor, too.
The Struggle with Research is Real
When it’s time to rally our entire organization around the potential of delivering great user experiences, there’s no better approach than creating a strong experience vision. Experience visions are a compelling picture of the future that gets everyone excited about what our UX team, working with the rest of our organization, can deliver.
In an ideal world, we’d craft our experience vision from our deep research into our users’ current experience. We’d study what our customers and users are trying to do and see where they run into problems. Our experience vision would tell the story of what using our product or service would be like without running into those problems.
Yet, conducting that deep research can be hard for some UX teams, especially when they’re just getting started. They haven’t unlocked the resources and time they need to do that kind of investigation.
This is where UX leaders get stuck. They need the experience vision to get folks excited about the power of great UX and see the benefits from conducting this type of research. Yet, without the research, they can’t produce a compelling experience vision. Or, so they think.
Expanding On the Hard Work That’s Already Been Done
This is where that corporate vision statement comes in. The senior leadership has already done a bit of the work for us. They’ve found consensus on what they think the future could look like, but in vague terms, that gives us room to maneuver.
We can use the corporate vision statement as a starting point for creating our experience vision. After all, senior leadership has already agreed on the corporate vision, so we don’t have to sell them on it. It’ll be easier to sell them the ideas in our experience vision because it’s based on something they’re bought into.
Because the original corporate vision was vague, it becomes a framework we plug details into. Our experience vision — which we’ll translate into a much richer story that shows what it’s like to use our future product or services — will stay within the spirit of the senior leadership’s intent.
We’re riding on the hard work they’ve already done to gain consensus. We provide the details necessary to make that original statement into something quite exciting that everyone in the organization can get behind.
Since we’re now showing the senior leadership’s vision in terms of what a great experience will be for future users, everyone sees our UX team’s contribution. This, in turn, gets us the street cred to do more UX work, including the research we wanted from the beginning. It becomes a virtuous cycle of better user experience.
Special thanks to Lori Broach for her hard work on this article.