Purpose – The purpose of the paper is to identify characteristics of visions that are associated with desirable performance outcomes. Design/methodology/approach – The paper examines findings from various vision studies in American, Australian and Thai businesses to derive characteristics of effective vision statements. Findings – Effective visions are characterized by conciseness, clarity, abstractness, stability, future orientation, challenge and desirability or ability to inspire in Australian, Thai and US businesses. Such visions are associated with higher performance outcomes.Originality/valueWhile vision is emphasized by authors and consultants as critical to superior performance, little is known about what characterizes effective vision. This study uncovers this unknown.