Vision and Mission

by Rus Slater

In a nutshell

1. Vision versus mission

Lots of people and organisations use the terms interchangeably and if, at the end of the day, you find something that suits you and your needs, then stick with it. For ease of reading this topic, however, we will use a slight differentiation:

  • A Vision statement describes the desired future position of the organisation
  • A Mission statement defines an organisation’s ‘business’, its ‘purpose’, its current, or overall, objective and its approach to reaching this objective.


2. The value of vision

Having clear vision and mission statements

  • Identifies direction and purpose
  • Provides continuity and avoids the stutter effect of cyclical (annual) planning fits and starts
  • Alerts stakeholders to needed change
  • Breaks you out of boundary thinking
  • Promotes interest and commitment
  • Promotes focus on the bigger picture over the everyday schedule
  • Encourages openness to unique and creative solutions
  • Encourages and builds confidence
  • Builds loyalty through involvement (ownership)
  • Results in efficiency and productivity.


3. Vision

  • An organisational vision is a ‘big picture’ aspiration for its own future.
  • Within the organisation, it is perfectly reasonable for individual departments and functions to have their own specific vision.
  • Key attributes are
  • Futuristic
  • Challenging
  • Motivating
  • Emotional
  • Has a catchy summary phrase
  • Describes the best possible outcome


4. Creating a vision

The quality of your vision determines the quality and originality of your ideas and solutions. A powerful vision statement should stretch expectations and aspirations, helping you step out of your comfort zone.

  • A vision statement is the first step towards achieving the results you truly desire.
  • Use adjectives and adverbs that stretch the organisation, and excite and motivate you.
  • The vision statement should serve all stakeholders, not just one group.
  • If it may be seen as unrealistic, you may need two – an inspirational vision statement and a ‘realistic’ version to be used as a target.


5. Communicating the vision

The biggest danger to a vision is that only a small group of people know about and support it. It should be integrated into as many communication channels as possible:

  • New employee inductions
  • Written communications – reports, letterheads, emails
  • Annual appraisals
  • Business plans at all levels
  • Notice boards
  • Intranet
  • Websites
  • Vehicle livery
  • Corporate work-wear
  • Advertising and marketing campaigns


6. Mission

A mission statement defines an organisation’s ‘business’, its ‘purpose’, its current, or overall, objective and its approach to reaching this objective.

  • Each manager can derive his or her team mission from the level above.
  • Each person’s job description or targets can be derived from these.
  • The ultimate outcome must be relevant to everybody.


7. Creating a mission statement

Make sure that everyone involved is in a productive mindset and follow these general guidelines:

  • Pick one central theme that is easily understandable and in line with your corporate vision
  • Pick a sensible ‘team’ to work with you to create your mission
  • Focus on a few key attributes of your service or product
  • Don’t rush the process.


8. Communicating a mission statement

Once you have crafted, tested and accepted your corporate mission statement, you need to make it ‘live’.

  • You have to do all the same things you did with the vision statement.
  • You can also embed it into all your subordinate organisation plans.


9. Personal vision statements

A personal vision statement is the distillation of what you have decided that you want out of your years of life.

  • What are the things you most enjoy doing?
  • What must you do every single day for you to feel fulfilled in your work?
  • What are your most important values?
  • When your life is reaching its natural end, what will you regret not doing, seeing, or achieving? With whom?