Vision [vizh-uh n] noun: the act or power of sensing with eyes; anticipating that which will or may come to be; a vivid, imaginative conception or anticipation.
Statement [steyt-muh nt] noun: a single sentence or assertion; the act or manner of stating something; the communication of an idea, position, mood or the like through something other than words.
When I joined Bazaarvoice in November to lead the corporate branding & communication team, I was incredibly excited to be a part of the company that essentially invented consumer-generated content for the rest of the world. A few months in, our CMO asked me to review our company’s vision statement and, if needed, help craft a new one. Needless to say, I was both curious about the process to produce a new vision statement and a little awestruck. In my 20+ year career, I haven’t had the opportunity to help define an organization’s vision, much less one whose values are so deeply rooted in a company culture of authenticity and passion, but I was intrigued by the challenge. Our prior vision statement was intentionally aspirational and ambitious, particularly for such a young company: Changing the world one conversation at a time. Did we change the world? I think we changed it by enabling the authentic voice of the customer to be heard and acted upon. But we have new goals and aspirations and that called for a new vision. So off I went on my vision quest.
I enlisted the support of a few key team members around the company and we held three employee focus groups with more than 40 employees across our Austin, New York and London offices, encouraging them to share their ideas and think big with no limits. And they came through big time! I was impressed with the amount of sincere thought and deep passion that went into those discussions. Some of the employee-generated suggested statements were grandiose, some were tactical, many were funny, a few were esoteric and way out there, but most were rooted in our legacy of service and dedication to our clients. My personal favorite was brilliant, focused and applicable on many levels: Be Awesome. We should all aspire to Be Awesome.
After gathering tons of great ideas, feedback and suggested statements, we looked for common themes and there were a few that stuck out across the groups. The top concepts that kept surfacing were trust, authenticity, client focus, connecting, educating and providing a voice to the marketplace.
I was impressed, inspired and humbled by this project. What did I learn through this journey to define our vision? I learned that our team cares deeply about what we do and how we do it. I learned that suggested vision statements are like opinions – everyone has one. I learned that it’s harder than you think to be ambitious, aspiring, creative and focused in a single statement. I also learned that if you offer people food, they will show up for your focus group.
After tons of discussion and consideration at all levels of the company, we arrived at a vision statement that captures the heart and soul of the new Bazaarvoice. It speaks to our passion around our clients, the authentic information we provide, connecting people and the desire to educate not only our customers but their customers as well. If vision implies sensing and a statement is the communication of a concept, a vision statement sums up an organization’s sense of itself and its future – what it aspires to be, now and in the future. I think we did that and I’m looking forward to the next chapter in our story based on our new vision.
Bazaarvoice: Creating the world’s smartest network of consumers, brands and retailers.