In every organization there are guidelines that need to be followed in order to have a successful and profitable future. The mission and vision statements of an organization provide these guidelines. By articulating a company’s purpose, goals and vision these statements can motivate and inspire passion within the stakeholders resulting in a successful organization. Although these two powerful statements reflect different aspects of organizational goals they work together to provide a comprehensive overview of an organization. In this paper the author will discuss criteria that are essential to developing a mission and vision statement. In addition the author will compare the commonalities and differences between the two lists of criteria. Mission Statements
At the heart of every business is a mission statement that “describes the overall purpose of an organization” (McNamara, 2009). Through a mission statement an organization has the ability to define themselves at the simplest level thereby ensuring that all employees, customers and stakeholders understand their purpose (Kapenda, 2008). It is the author’s belief that there are five crucial criteria that must be utilized when devising a good mission statement. These include: Clear and Concise: A mission statement is the heart of an organization and must clearly spell out why an organization exists.
First and foremost clearly articulating an organizations purpose allows stakeholders to determine if the provided services meet their demands/needs (Crea, n.d.). Additionally, a clear mission statement “provides a strong frame of reference from which management can determine short term organizational goals and tactics” that will contribute to success (Rector, 2010). Clear and concise mission statements leave no room for confusion as to why an organization exists and where they are headed. When an organization has a clear mission statement stakeholders are more likely to remember an organization and their purpose (Belcher, n.d.). “Consumers should be able to read and understand the direction of a company and why the organization exists without much forethought” (Belcher). Creates a Vision: When a mission statement provokes a positive vision it persuades consumers and employees to believe in the organization and their product.
A vision helps keeps employees, shareholders and stakeholders focused on organization objectives (Hull, 2013). Creating a clear vision can help foster teamwork, enhance communication and develop leaders, all of which contribute to enhanced organizational success (Crea, n.d.). Discusses Growth and Profitability: Stating the future growth and profitability of an organization lets consumers, employees and stakeholders know what the organization is working toward and what they hope to achieve. Setting growth goals keeps organizations accountable and on track to meeting their goals. Additionally, it demonstrates to competitors your commitment to the organization and the vision. Reference for Business states “feeding on the strengths of an organization, strategic and operational goals can be set that will help maintain and met profitability” (2014).
Memorable and Inspirational: Leaving a memorable and inspirational impression on all stakeholders is a key to continued success and growth of an organization. First impressions are extremely important for “if a first impression is unfavorable it is human nature to cause people to not bother looking more deeply at an organization or getting to know them” leading to organizational failure (Ramjee, n.d). Clear Target: Mission statements should target specific clientele that the organization is hoping to draw to their services (Crea, n.d.). Targeting specific stakeholders can help differentiate and separate an organization from their competition (Ramjee, n.d). Reference for Business states “a mission statement that tries to be everything to everyone ends up being nothing to anyone” it is therefore vital to target clientele (2014). Vision Statements
A vision statement is a “valid description of an organization as it effectively carries out its operation” (McNamara, 2009). Through energizing and inspiring stakeholders a vision statement can draw people to an organization and their cause (Change Factory, 2014). The proper utilization of a vision statement tells the world “about the organization, the operating environment and the organizations dream” (Change Factory). When devising a good vision statement there are five criteria the author believes will assist in the process. Memorable: Writing a memorable vision statement that makes stakeholders remember your organization enhances the chances for overall success (Woolf, 2011). When people remember an organization they are more likely to talk, discuss and promote that organization thereby enhancing success (Woolf). A memorable impression makes an organization unforgettable, for the good or the bad.
Clear and Concise: “Concise communication is essential for the success of any organization and is especially important to build and maintain a sustainable competitive advantage over the competition” (Woolf, 2011). When an organizations vision statement is unclear there is the potential of sending mixed signals regarding organizational goals and purpose which could result in disastrous outcomes. Evokes Emotions/Inspirational/Energizing: A vision statement describes the passion and vested interest of your business (Change Factory, 2014). When stakeholders feel the organizational vision is useful and important they are more likely to support the organization and help meet those goals. A strong vision statement has the “power to draw a team together, foster employee empowerment and co-create the future” developing a stronger more successful organization (Woolf, 2011).
Additionally this inspiration will help stakeholders and employees overcome the day-to-day grind and see “the big picture and potential awards that exist” with organizational success (Woolf). Best Possible Outcome: Stating the outcomes an organization hopes to achieve demonstrates to stakeholders their dedication and commitment to achieving those goals. Additionally, setting goals helps to keep an organization focused on the larger picture and not get caught up in the day-to-day activities (Millard, 2010). Realistic: It is important to inspire and motivate stakeholders, but at the same time a vision must be realistic. “People need to believe what is envisaged is actually achievable” or you risk losing stakeholder buy in, ultimately leading to organizational failure (Millard, 2010). Comparison of Mission and Vision Statements
Companies develop mission and vision statements to summarize their goals and objectives. Although these two statements serve different purposes they share some overlapping objectives. A mission statement defines an organizations purpose and their objectives (McNamara 2009). Whereas a vision statement outlines an organizations values and their future (McNamara). One of the commonalities of these two statements is that they need to be written clearly and concisely. It is imperative these statements accurately articulate an organizations purpose and vision as this will generate stakeholders trust and build their business. When an organizations purpose, values and goals are clearly stated there little room for misinterpretation.
Another common factor between a mission and vision statement is their ability to be memorable. The ability to develop a lasting impression on stakeholders is the key to having a successful organization. When an organization makes a memorable impression they can generate stakeholder buy-in and improve networking ultimately leading to enhanced sales and profits. Differences
Although these two statements have several objectives in common, they also have numerous differences. A mission statement discusses short term organizational goals with a futuristic vision. Whereas the vision statement provides long term goals encompassed with emotional and inspirational support that assists in meeting the mission goals.
Mission statements focus on the heart or business aspects of the organization: profits, growth and sustainability. This is a statement expressing why an organization exists, not how they will achieve their success. A vision statement, on the other hand, paints a picture of how the organization will get to the next level, remain successful and stay ahead of their competition.
Focusing on the emotions and values of stakeholders is the essence of an organizational vision statement. It is imperative for businesses to discuss how they will grow and prosper but it is just as important to discuss the values utilized to meet those goals. When stakeholders feel a connection and believe in the values of the organization they are more dedicated, motivated and driven to see the organization succeed, thus enhancing profitability and meeting mission statement goals. Additionally, vision statements provide realistic and specific goals. This specificity allows for successful accomplishment of those goals thereby rendering enhanced stakeholder dedication, motivation and drive to achieve even greater organizational success.
Another distinguishing difference between these two statements is their targeted focus. Organizational mission statements attempt to target and draw in specific clientele by defining the purpose and services provided (Crea, n.d.). This specific tailoring enables organizations to further customize their products thereby enhancing financial growth and success. A vision statement on the other hand draws stakeholders to an organization by targeting specific future organizational outcomes, not just products produced. Although these statements focus on different aspects of the organization they combine to form a powerful testament to the organization as a whole.
Although mission and vision statements articulate different aspects of organizational success, both are critical to the success of an organization. Developing a strong vision statement helps direct and guide an organization on the day-to-day goals in order to get to where it wants to be in the future. It provides motivation, dedication and drive by tapping into stakeholder’s emotions and values. A powerful mission statement reminds stakeholders of the purpose of an organization. Working together these two powerful statements communicate organizational culture, values and drive that ultimately result in organizational success.
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