The Virtue of Vagueness in Vision Statements

Those tasked with running large organisations sometimes have to make major changes to achieve organisational goals. What can be done to help ensure that these changes are effective? One strategy – proposed by professor Dennis A. Gioia and colleagues at the Department of Management and Organization of Penn State University, is to deliberately introduce a degree of ‘vagueness’ into the organisation’s vision statements.

“We draw on organizational and political concepts to make the case that ambiguity in the expression of future aspirations enables a sense of alignment between local and larger organizational goals that eases the political path to successful chvange [sic]”.

And, going further :

“We also explore the paradox that, occasionally, the path out of ambiguity involves the initial injection of even more ambiguity into an already ambiguous situation.”

The paper: ‘Visionary Ambiguity and Strategic Change: The Virtue of Vagueness in Launching Major Organizational Change‘ is scheduled for future publication in the Journal of Management Inquiry.

Please send examples of published ‘Vague Vision Statements’ to

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