A mission statement is….
“a long awkward sentence that demonstrates management’s inability to think clearly.”
Dilbert Comic Quote, Scott Adams
When you meet an executive or owner of a business, ask them to tell you their mission, then their vision. Did you notice anything? Maybe it felt clunky, confusing, a bit off, or somewhat pointless.
Instead, let’s take a shot at your company’s words on that wall. We should start by simply defining the terms vision and mission. This exercise alone should not be difficult. In fact, if it is, then living your vision and mission will be awfully hard across your organization.
Ironically, as you work with various companies across various industries, it is surprising how often this key foundational element is fundamentally flawed from its very nexus of creation. Getting this right establishes a critical launch pad for your business to move forward with confidence. Plus, your employees and customers will be waving your flag alongside of you. This is because together your vision and mission guide behavior and decision-making defining how you “do business.”
What is a vision?
Think visionary. A visionary is a person with clear ideas about what should happen or be done in the future in a creative or imaginary way.
What is a mission?
Think missionary. A missionary is a person strongly in favor of a specific mission who attempts to persuade others into action under a common calling.
Vision vs Mission
You may have noticed that companies share their visions and missions differently–if at all. Many times they adjust it to their audience; meaning it changes depending if they are talking to executives, shareholders, employees and customers. In some cases, you don’t want to share your entire vision with the entire market, because you may be giving away strategy to your competition. You have to decide what makes sense in your situation. The more consistent and aligned the presentation of your vision and mission are–the more likely you will achieve them.
Furthermore, both your vision and mission need to embody your distinctive culture and values. This grounds you from a deeper sustainable place reaped in authenticity. Powerful stuff. Weaving in these elements allows your vision and mission to be more personable, which means people will find it easier to bond with and envision themselves as part of something bigger; ie brand ambassadors. Even more powerful stuff.
By taking the initiative when it comes to your primary initiatives found in your vision and mission
6 Steps to find out if your vision and mission are right
- Start with knowing your values. Tip: Think about the attributes you’d want from an exceptional employee. Those reflect your desired values.
- Consider what sort of culture you are and you want to be. Tip: Make sure the culture you nurture can be translated to everything from hiring to how you market. (Your culture is a living breathing representation of your brand.)
- Determine how you will measure success. Tip: Create SMART goals checking in on them multiple times throughout the year. Course correct swiftly.
- Fine tune your vision and mission into clear, passionate messages that are simple to share. Tip: If you can’t tell someone your vision or mission, paraphrased or not, then no one else will get it either.
- Refer to your vision and mission in all decisions to ensure you make the right one. Tip: Move through all the choices in front of you faster by throwing them up against your vision and mission wall. Whatever doesn’t stick should be thrown out.
- Lead by example. If you and your executives are not the poster children of your vision and mission, then you won’t succeed. Tip: No one benefits from wasting your resources putting empty words up on your wall. False advertising never works.
Be uncompromising when it comes to living up to your standards and ambitions. No place is it better represented than in your vision and mission. These define the direction of your company. Without this navigational device, you will wonder aimlessly. An expensive and pointless endeavor that will not end in prosperity. Make it your mission before the end of the year to get your company vision and mission right. The benefits of having a great vision and mission are huge.