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Back to Basics: Do You Know Your Mission and Vision?

Back to Basics: Do You Know Your Mission and Vision?

One of the first things I do when working with a new client is review their mission and vision statement. I’ve come to learn there are very successful companies that might have been around for 15+ years that either don’t have a mission or vision statement, or what they do have is no longer relevant. A mission and vision statement can be the beacon that brings a company back to its core in times of change or uncertainty.

A mission statement is a short sentence or paragraph used to explain, in simple and concise terms, a company's purpose(s) for being, and seeks to define its culture, values, ethics, and fundamental goals, and how these apply to its stakeholders.

For example, Microsoft’s one-sentence mission statement is, “Empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more.”

A vision statement outlines where you want to be and communicates both the purpose and values of your business.

For example, Amazon’s vision statement is, "Our vision is to be Earth's most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”

Confirming mission and vision statements involves reviewing and answering questions about the guiding principles of your company, such as:

  1. What business should we be in?
  2. Why do we exist (what’s our purpose)?
  3. What’s unique or different about us?
  4. Who are our principal customers?
  5. What are our principal products and services, present and future?
  6. What are our principal market segments, present and future?
  7. What are our principal outlets and distribution channels, present and future?
  8. What is different about business today compared to 3-5 years ago?
  9. What philosophical issues are important to us?
  10. What special considerations do we have to stakeholders?

[Related: Valuing Values Drives Results]

In an expressed culture, everyone knows the mission, vision, and their role in getting there.

Many people think that working on a mission statement is a mindless procedure that the Human Resources department just pulls together through a couple strategy sessions and then puts on a wall. This isn’t the type of mission statement that we’re talking about, or the kind of mission statement that successful leaders are instilling in their organization.

The powerful, very important mission statement we’re talking about is only created through a process that involves your key leadership to debate strategic questions and discuss core values, which are then simplified down into a succinct mission geared toward developing a winning and effective culture.

The mission should:

  • Include a clear message that can be embodied by anyone in your company.
  • Have in mind the most important priorities of the organization.
  • Clearly identify the core customer and how as an organization we are going to serve all those who are dependent upon us for products, service, and employment and community engagement.

[Related: Three Leadership Goals to Set for Each Stage of Your Career]

After the mission and vision statements are established and agreed upon, the next step is to identify what may get in the way by engaging in a SWOT analysis with the team.

Identifying and discussing internal strengths, weaknesses, external opportunities, and threats will help the team uncover critical issues. “Critical” means important, and you can’t really know whether an issue is important or not unless you know how that issue influences your personal and organizational success, or how it makes it easier or more difficult to execute your mission and vision.

If you have a mission, vision, and value statement, great. I would ask: Are these statements driving your business? Are they still relevant? It’s a good idea to revisit them every so often to make sure they are still relevant to the strategic plan of the business.

If you aren’t sure about your statements, or think they might need updating, I would implore you to revisit them. If you don’t know where you are, how do you know where you’re going?

[Related: Think Twice Before Hiring Your Leaders: Their Values Dictate Your Brand]

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Adriana Puente is an Associate of The Rawls Group, a business succession planning firm.  Adriana specializes in dealing with the issues that must be resolved by business owners to implement succession strategies geared towards building business value. For additional information, visit www.rawlsgroup.com or call 407-578-4455.


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