Mission Statements and Vision Statements

Vision statements and mission statements are the inspiring words chosen by successful leaders to clearly and concisely convey the direction of the organization. By crafting a clear mission statement and vision statement, you can powerfully communicate your intentions and motivate your team or organization to realize an attractive and inspiring common vision of the future.

“Mission Statements” and “Vision Statements” do two distinctly different jobs.

A mission statement defines the organization’s purpose and primary objectives. Its prime function is internal, to define the key measure or measures of the organization’s success and its prime audience is the leadership team and stockholders.

Vision statements also define the organizations purpose, but this time they do so in terms of the organization’s values rather than bottom line measures (values are guiding beliefs about how things should be done.) The vision statement communicates both the purpose and values of the organization. For employees, it gives direction about how they are expected to behave and inspires them to provide their best. Shared with customers, it shapes customers’ understanding of why they should work with the organization.

Tip: Mission statements and vision statements usually refer to an organization or an organizational unit. Team Charters can have a similar role when briefing teams.

First we look at creating mission statements. Then we create vision statements.

Mission Statement Creation

  1. To create your mission statement, first identify your organization’s “winning idea”
    1. This is the idea or approach that will make your organization stand out from its competitors and is the reason that customers will come to you and not your competitors (see tip below)
    2. Next, identify the key measures of your success. Make sure you choose the most important measures (and not too many of them!)
    3. Combine your winning idea and success measures into a tangible and measurable goal
    4. Refine the words until you have a concise and precise statement of your mission, which expresses your ideas, measures and desired result

Vision Statement Creation

Once you’ve created your mission statement, move on to create your vision statement:

  • First identify your organization’s mission. Then uncover the real, human value in that mission
  • Next, identify what you, your customers and other stakeholders will value most about how your organization will achieve this mission. Distil these into the values that your organization has or should have
  • Combine your mission and values, and polish the words until you have a vision statement inspiring enough to energize and motivate people inside and outside your organization

Using the example mission statement developed for a UK based technology company we are involved with, the senior management team engaged all members of staff, customers and value chain partners and examined what they, their customers, members of staff and partner thought about their value proposition and therefore what should be core about the company’s value and mission statement.

The four most important things the team identified were: cost reduction, identify and manage risk, reduce internal bureaucracy and increase returns to shareholders. Here’s the vision statement they created.

“We help companies reduce cost, complexity and operational day to day risk in order to maximize shareholder value.”

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