When used properly mission, vision and values statements can be very powerful tools. They are inspiring words developed by leaders to clearly and concisely convey the purpose, direction and driving forces of their organization. By creating clear, meaningful and reflective statements, you can powerfully communicate your intentions and motivate and inspire your team to ensure they understand the objectives of the organization, to make consistent everyday decisions and to achieve buy-in to new directions. Your team members will gain a sense of pride in working as part of an organization that stands for something and are united by a common sense of purpose.
Why do they matter?
Mission, vision and values statements are crucial to communicating the "who, what and why" for your organization to corporate management, team members and to the users of your services. It's not enough to feel passionate about the products and services your organization offers, you and your entire team also have to consciously understand the framework of what drives the organization. This is essential in order to effectively communicate those drivers to a diverse group of people.
The more clearly you can articulate your high-level goals from the start, the less time and resources you will spend on trying to fix poor communication, alignment, employee engagement and unwanted cultural behaviors later. Your strategic goals and tactical plans will be more aligned, streamlined and easier to communicate to your stakeholders.
So, what is the difference between mission, vision and values? How are they distinct? Following is some advice to start developing your organization's mission, vision and value statements.
Mission Statement Creation
What do we do?
Your mission statement should be a concise statement of business strategy. It should be developed from the customer's perspective and it should fit with the vision for the business. Describe the overall purpose of your organization: what we do, who we do it for, and how and why we do it.
- To create your mission statement, first identify your organization's "winning idea."
- This is the idea or approach that will make your organization stand out, and is the reason that your customers will come to you and not go to outside vendors.
- Next, identify the key ways you will measure your success.
- Combine your winning idea and success measures into a tangible and measurable goal.
- 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
Why are we here?
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. Reflect the essence of the organization's mission and values.
- Answer the question: What impact do we want to have within the corporation?
- Next, identify what you, your customers and other stakeholders can be expected to value most about how your organization will achieve this mission. Distill 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 stakeholders inside and outside your organization.
- Make sure the words convey a larger sense of organizational purpose, so that your team members see themselves as "important" and relevant to the corporation.
Values Statement Creation
Who are we?
A value statement should:
- Reflect the core ideology of an organization, the deeply held values that do not change over time.
- Answer the question: How do we carry out our mission?
- Include the values your organization lives and breathes in all its activities.
Find ways to involve as many people as possible in the mission/vision/values creation processes, because engaging team members will help them to take ownership, while also providing more minds to help craft statements that accurately reflect the diverse organization.
Remember that your mission, vision and values statements are meant to be a road map for your organization, not to lock you into a particular direction. A periodic review with corporate management will enable them to agree on your organization's evolving long-term direction, set a new course if required, get the organization back on track when necessary, or determine whether interim modifications are needed.
Do Mission, Vision and Value Statements Help?
To be of use, mission, vision and values statements must be assimilated into the organization. For these to pay off, the organization needs to:
- Communicate these statements through many mediums and to all levels of the organization.
- Take internal measures to ensure management speaks with one voice about mission, vision and values.
- Relate and reinforce success stories that demonstrate the mission, vision and values in action.
- Embody and enact vision and values in management practices.
- Define short-term objectives that are compatible with the long-range vision.
The core elements of mission, vision and values are key to your ability to communicate clearly and consistently with corporate management, your current and potential clients and team members. Through consciously understanding your organization's values and goals, you can clearly express what brought your organization into existence and how it continues to define, benefit and drive the corporation.