Just as companies develop their business plan to define their markets, strategy to compete, and operational structure to succeed, it is also a great idea for companies large and small to develop mission and vision statements. Done right, they can provide alignment and direction across the enterprise and inspiration for all employees.
I will discus these benefits more in a moment, as well as share a few examples. First, however, let’s define what they are and how they are different.
A mission statement defines the fundamental purpose of your organization. It is not measurable, per say, but rather a statement defining your company’s reason for being. It’s best when kept brief, long-term oriented, and inspiring. For example, the Intel mission statement is to: “Delight our customers, employees, and shareholders by relentlessly delivering the platform and technology advancements that become essential to the way we work and live.”
Where a mission statement defines a company’s purpose, the vision statement describes what the company wants to achieve in the future. It is your long-term dream, concentrating on the future, and outlining what the organization wants to be, or how it wants the world in which it operates to be. The vision statement is more often a source of inspiration than the mission statement, and also can provide clear decision-making and behavior expectations.
For example, the first part of McDonalds vision statement reads: “McDonald’s vision is to be the world’s best quick service restaurant experience.” And Nike’s is “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the World.”
So why take the time to do create these statements? Well, as I mentioned up front, the first is alignment. Merely doing the work to get agreement on what a company’s mission and vision statements are can be a powerful exercise in getting everyone on the same page about the purpose of the organization and where it wants to be in the future. In addition, it can be a compass for company behavior. For example, with Southwest Airlines emphasis on customer service in their mission statement, they let all stakeholders know that the behavior they care most about is being friendly and service-oriented to their customers: “The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit”,
Similarly, in a post on Harvard Business Publishing’s blog and republished at BusinessWeek, The Leading Edge blogger Michael Watkins says of vision statements: “It crystallizes an emotional connection between employees and the business.”
In addition to providing alignment, creating your mission and vision statements can be inspiring to you, your employees, and your customers. For example, at Mr. Watkins points out, a unit of Johnson & Johnson that designs, manufactures and markets orthopedic implants, such as artificial hips and knees, has this as their statement of vision: “Restoring the Joy of Motion.” Wow – now that is powerful. Gives you goose bumps if you really think about the impact this company is having on the lives of others.
In another inspiring example, you see the mission statement of TREW Marketing community partner and educational leader, KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) “…is to help educationally underserved students develop the knowledge, skills, and character needed to succeed in college and the competitive world beyond.” They clearly state their audience – underserved students – and their vision to prepare them for college and the competitive world. Straightforward and inspiring.
While not all companies and organizations may feel they need these statements, certainly companies who are innovating in engineering, science, and education, and truly changing the lives and lifestyles of so many, are missing an opportunity if they don’t.
Have we inspired you to create your mission and vision statements? Let us know how we can help you. As the TREW mission states, “We create ideas to promote the innovation of our world’s technical and academic leaders” and we would love to serve you.