A few weeks ago, I posted “What Is Your Company’s Vision and Why Should You Care?” In this article I defined Vision as “a picture of the future which creates an ideal and unique image of what the organization will become and/or the impact it will make.” I wrote about the importance of keeping the vision of your organization concise but powerful and portable so that it can be easily remembered, modeled, communicated and transferred.
Equally important for your organization is a mission statement. The mission statement defines where you are going and what your organization is doing right now to attain the vision.
Where the vision statement is broad, the mission statement should be specific. The vision for the organization should remain constant over time while the mission can change depending on what the organization is able to achieve and depending on market forces. The mission statement can also include some key success factors and parameters that allow the organization to clearly see and measure success as you move towards fulfilling the mission.
If we take one of the vision examples from the previous article, “Make Poverty History”, and assume that we are an organization that is dedicated to this vision, what could our mission statement be? Well, there are an infinite number of ways that an organization could contribute to this vision so let us further assume we are an organization that creates, builds and sells low cost, solar powered, battery backed up lights.
Vision: Make Poverty History
Mission: We are the people that create low cost, high quality solar powered lighting systems that light up the worlds of the underprivileged to drive education and industry.
This vision/mission combination provides a clear and powerful direction for the employees of this organization.
Now suppose we are an organization with the same vision but this time we raise funding for underprivileged children.
Vision: Make Poverty History
Mission: We match children in need of basic life essentials with donors willing to fund their formative years so they can grown up well nourished, clothed and educated.
You can see from these two examples how the vision statement is broad but the mission statement provides a clear focus on how the organization is working to achieve the vision.
The vision statement provides the high level purpose of the organization while the mission statement describes exactly what the employees are working on day to day.
Every individual in the organization should be able to clearly see how their activities contribute to the mission and ultimately to the vision. They need this direct line of sight to be engaged and productive, contributing members of the organization.
So, does your organization have clearly defined vision and mission statements and are they communicated properly to each person in your organization? Also, don’t forget that vision and mission leak but this leakage can be effectively counteracted. Make sure your leadership is clearly articulating the vision and mission, consistently modeling the vision and mission and continually communicating the vision and mission.