Vision and Mission Statements

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Vision and Mission statements are popular management tools. They are prominently displayed on the walls of the corporate office, web sites and in annual reports. A vision is a statement about what your organization wants to become. It should resonate with all members of the organization and help them feel proud, excited, and part of something much bigger than themselves. A vision should stretch the organization’s capabilities and image of itself. It gives shape and direction to the organization’s future. Visions range in length from a couple of words to several pages. While an organization’s mission or purpose is the answer to the question "why?" Different questions will illicit different facets or flavors of mission. For example- Why are we doing this? Brings out purpose, motives, and intention. What’s vitally important about our work? Begins to identify the values and interests that drive the organization. With what aspects of this work do I most identify? Is there a cause or purpose -- the bigger picture -- beyond the work itself? In a way, a "mission" is the motivational aspect of vision: it defines and clarifies "why does the vision matter?" and implies a set of governing values or principles.

KEY WORDS: Vision, mission, strategic management


Vision, Mission, and Strategy

Vision: "I see a world where..."

Mission: "In that world, we intend to..."

Strategy: "We will achieve this mission by..."

Vision and mission-making work can serve you in carrying out your leadership role, unifying your efforts and building alignment and loyalty among employees. However, far more important than having mission and vision statements is having a clear mission and vision!

While en route to getting it clear, avoiding formulating any new goals (in fact, you may want to slightly postpone a few to free up some time to focus). Once the vision statement has been drafted, discussed, improved and accepted, it will guide decision making and goal setting, saving you and others tremendous time and effort in the long-run.

The benefits of clear vision and mission statements will be realized if they

• speak to the organization’s present condition (including a "healthy stretch" toward a desired future),

• are written clearly in plain English, and

• are accompanied by grounded action that brings the intentions to life, and makes the work as the statements are put to use.

Making a statement memorable and inspiring is optional, but a helpful intention.  If these conditions are being met, then you can go forward with communicating this important information to everyone in the organization and, if appropriate, the outside world. Such written statements can be used to develop a clearer position in the marketplace, for strategic planning, and to quickly qualify job candidates and orient new-hires. If the statements are implemented as a tool for dialogue and feedback, the content need not be presented as the definitive "final word" but rather a (perpetual) working draft.

Leadership has been strongly associated with Vision. Whenever one talks of great leaders like Gandhi, Martin King Luther or Mandela, what comes to our mind is their vision. This is also true of great businessmen like Jamshedji Tata and Dhirubhai Ambani who are seen as visionaries. The story of Dhirubhai Ambani is a classic ‘rags to riches’ story.

Vision statement examples

"To be recognized and respected as one of the premier associations of HR Professionals." (HR Association of Greater Detroit)

"GM’s vision is to be the world leader in transportation products and related services. We will earn our customers’ enthusiasm through continuous improvement driven by the integrity, teamwork, and innovation of GM...
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