Vision and Mission Statement – necessary or just nice to have?
I am sure you have all seen the Vision and Mission Statement hanging on reception walls and on websites. They look grand and often sound impressive but are they really worth the paper they are printed on?
My answer to that is definitely, absolutely and without a doubt. Why do I believe that? Let’s look at what they should mean and why they are necessary.
What is the difference between a Vision Statement and a Mission Statement?
This is simply where you want the business to be, where do you want to be in the long term and what you want it to achieve. What are the core values of the business? It is the “Why you exist” statement.
The Mission Statement sets out how and what you will do to reach the Vision. It will incorporate your primary objectives and how you will meet your customers’ wants. In essence it will answer the questions – What do we do? What makes us different – and most importantly – Why do we do what we do?
The Vision Statement is therefore your main goal. It gives you an overriding objective to strive for, while ensuring that you keep focus on the vision. With a clear vision, you are less likely to make decisions that will be detrimental to the long-term growth and prosperity of the business. It must inspire you and your team daily, to work towards the vision.
The Mission Statement is the guide to achieving the vision. It will define the key stakeholders and the measures against which success will be monitored. In other words, the actions that will be taken to achieve the vision.
Not having a Vision and Mission Statement is like setting off on a holiday without knowing where you want to go. Sure, you will get “somewhere” and have a holiday but there may be a lot of wasted effort getting there and a lot of disagreement amongst the family on where to stop. You are very likely to have a number of unhappy customers (your family) and the chance of coming home happy and rested are very small.
But, and here is the important part, drawing up these statements must not be something that you do so you can say “I have a Vision and Mission Statement”, only to be hung on the wall, posted on the website and ignored. These must be lived everyday in all that your business does. They must be part of the “personality” of the business. Understood and accepted by all.
It reminds me of when my son first started playing soccer as a 5 year old. At the beginning of each half the coach would get them together on the field and ask “Which way are you playing?” and they would all point to the opposition goal and shout “That way”.
These statements are essentially letting everyone one know which way you are playing.
From a practical point of view each statement should include the following.
- Clarity and lack of ambiguity
- Paint a vivid and clear picture
- Describe a bright future
- Memorable and engaging expression
- Realistic aspirations, achievable
- Alignment with organisational values and culture
- Time bound if it talks of achieving any goal or objective
- Purpose and values of the organisation
- What business the organisation wants to be involved in (products or services, market) or who are the organisation’s primary clients (stakeholders)
- What the responsibilities are of the organization towards these “clients”
- What the main objectives are that support the company in accomplishing its’ mission