Creating Your Vision Part III: Mission Statement

The third element needed to create a compelling and cohesive organizational vision is the mission statement. After you have clarified why your business exists (purpose) and where you are headed (vision), it is important to understand how you are going to fulfill your purpose and achieve your vision. This is the role of a clear mission statement. Oftentimes, I see the purpose and mission statements being used synonymously. However, these are two distinct statements that serve two different needs for the organization. The mission statement helps clarify what the members of the organization must do daily to achieve the purpose.

In addition to helping achieve the purpose, carrying out the mission statement on a daily basis helps an organization pursue its vision. You see, purpose, vision, and mission statements should all build upon one another and point in the same direction. When they do so, there is a great amount of synergy that takes place because it gives employees a clear sense about the important role that they play within the organization.

While there is no set formula for the mission statement, my recommendation is that it be no longer than one sentence if possible. Like the purpose and vision, the mission must be clear and concise so that employees can easily commit it to memory. If organizational leaders create a mission statement that is a paragraph long, no one will remember it. Also, remember that a mission statement should be the daily driver of action for employees, so it must also be capable of inspiring action.

So if you’re looking to create your mission statement, first look at your purpose and vision statements for guidance. Your mission statement should be the daily commitment that will help achieve the purpose and vision. Then, follow the three C’s when writing the mission statement:

Clear – does it make sense? Would a stranger know what it means?

Concise – it should be stated in a few words—no more than one sentence if possible.

Compelling – the mission should be capable of inspiring action throughout the entire organization.

The mission statement must not only be committed to memory, but the employees of the organization must be committed to putting it into action. After you have articulated the mission, you will be ready for the final piece of the foundation for the organizational vision—the core values. I will discuss this last part in the next post.

Creating Your Vision Part I: Purpose Statement

Why does your organization exist?

The first key component needed to develop your vision is to identify your purpose. Simply stated, purpose is your reason for existence. It’s the “why” of what you do. Why does your company exist? Is it just to make money, or is there a deeper meaning? If you have never pondered this question, it’s not too late.

According to Blanchard, Stoner, and Zigarmi (2009), purpose is the essential first element required for developing a vision that is compelling. It not only serves as a guide to employees, but it also helps customers understand what business you are really in beyond just providing a product or service. Walt Disney had a clear purpose when he started his theme parks—to create happiness. Think of everything that goes into the Disney theme parks. These massive operations that employ thousands of people were all designed with the original purpose of delivering a unique experience that would bring happiness to millions of people around the world.

There is a certain amount of genius in creating a really good purpose statement such as Disney’s. It seems so simple, yet it is so profound.  Think about that when you work on creating your purpose statement. It does not have to be this lengthy and sophisticated statement that sounds flashy. Instead, it can be very simple. The key is to ensure that it captures the essence of your company and clearly articulates the core meaning of your business.

So, what business are you in? Take some time to reflect on that question and truly search for clarity. You might be surprised what answer you come up with because it could be something that you have been overlooking all this time. Once you have clarified your core purpose, you will be well on your way toward establishing a clear and compelling vision for your organization.

Reference

Blanchard, K. (2009). Leading at a higher level. FT Press.

Four Steps to Creating Your Vision

“I can teach anybody how to get what they want out of life. The problem is that I can’t find anybody who can tell me what they want.” -Mark Twain

The next series of posts I will be sharing is focused on the topic of vision. I absolutely love this topic because I believe that when vision is properly implemented, it can be truly transformational. It can give inspiration and direction where none previously existed. It can energize a team, a department, or a whole organization. Vision can be applied corporately or even personally.  The key, though, is having a vision and following it. Otherwise you are just flailing in the wind, like a boat at sea with no compass.

Over the next four weeks, I will be outlining the four key components needed to create and articulate your vision. After completing this process, your organization will have established a foundational blueprint that can be used to guide future plans and decisions. You can also use this same process to create a personal vision for your life. Here are the four components that I will be explaining in detail:

  • Part I:    Purpose Statement – why do you exist?
  • Part II:   Vision Statement – where are you going?
  • Part III:  Mission Statement – how will you get there?
  • Part IV:  Core Values – what behaviors will guide your decisions and actions?

I firmly believe that identifying and articulating each of these four pieces is essential for an organization to have a clear vision of the future that is both purposeful and strategic. A vision should be something greater than you. It must be inspirational, powerful, meaningful, and timeless. You should always be aspiring to achieve your vision, and it should constantly be challenging you to grow and improve. I look forward to diving into this topic with you!

Here are a few quotes on vision…

“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” -Warren Bennis

“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” -Michelangelo

“Determine that the thing can and shall be done and then we shall find the way.”  -Abraham Lincoln

“Vision without execution is hallucination.” -Thomas Edison