Mission Statement

Organizations sometimes summarize goals and objectives into a mission statement and / or a vision statement:

* A Definition of Vision in a dictionary: 'An Image of the future we seek to create'.

A vision statement describes in graphic terms where the goal-setters want to see themselves in the future. It may describe how they see events unfolding over 10 or 20 years if everything goes exactly as hoped.

* A definition of Mission in a dictionary: purpose, reason for being

Many people mistake vision statement for mission statement. They are fundamentally different. Mission statement defines the purpose or broader goal for being in the existence or in the business. It serves as a guide in times of uncertainty, vagueness. It is like guiding light. It has no time frame. The mission can remain the same for decades if crafted correctly. While vision is more specific in terms of objective and time frame of its achievement. Vision is related to some form of achievement if successful.

For example, "We help transport goods and people efficiently and cost effectively without damaging environment" is a mission statement. Ford's brief but powerful slogan, "Quality is Job 1" could count as a mission statement. While "We will be one amongst the top three transporters of goods and people in North America by 2010" is a vision statement. It is very concrete and unambiguous goal.

To make mission statement effective it needs to be aligned with the prevailing culture in that organization. Mission and Values go hand in hand. Lofty mission statement means nothing if it is not in congruent with the values practiced by the organization. Good example is Enron.

A mission statement can resemble a vision statement in a few companies, but that can be a grave mistake. It can confuse the people. While mission statement helps inculcate values in employees, the vision statement has direct bearing on the bottomline and success of the organization. The vision statement can galvanize the people to achieve defined objectives even if they are stretch objectives provided the vision is SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Bound).

Mahatma Gandhi had a simple vision of getting rid of British rule in India and establish a vibrant democracy in India. He had a specific image of post British India in his mind and he talked of that image at every opportunity and to every one who was willing to listen.

The effect of such a powerful vision and articulation of this powerful vision in a simple to understand language was dramatic in the history of India. He and his followers defeated British without using any weapons or any violance. Their mission statement was not to use any violence and to love even the enemy. The 'Satyagraha' was not targetted towards the British people but to unjust, unlawful British imperial rule on India. They could come up with different strategies to achieve their vision while remaining loyal to their mission statement. So the mission and vision both served as a guide.

Nelson Mandela used the same tactics in South Africa later.

These two examples should be enough to demonstrate the profound impact a powerful vision can have on entire mass of humanity or even on entire generation. Powerful vision statements are very important for any organization to succeed in today's world.

Features of an effective vision statement may include:

* Clarity and lack of ambiguity
* Paint a vivid and clear picture, not ambiguous
* Describing a bright future (hope)
* Memorable and engaging expression
* Realistic aspirations, achievable
* Alignment with organizational values and culture, Rational
* Time bound if it talks of achieving any goal or objective

In order to become really effective, an organizational vision statement must (the theory states) become assimilated into the organization's culture. Leaders have the responsibility of communicating the vision regularly, creating narratives that illustrate the vision, acting as role-models by embodying the vision, creating short-term objectives compatible with the vision, and encouraging others to craft their own personal vision compatible with the organization's overall vision.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Strategic planning"

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