Do you belong to or work for an organization or business? Can you state their mission and vision statements from memory? Do these statements even exist?
Why write mission and vision statements?
Mission and vision statements describe your purpose and direction. They provide a compelling focus for members or employees, which in turn inspires involvement and motivates doing the work. Creating these statements can be a powerful team-building exercise.
These statements are also useful for gaining support and engagement with all types of stakeholders – funders, collaborators, and potential clients and customers.
Mission and vision statements can be effective tools for communicating within an organization as well as to the outside world. They succinctly describe what the organization does, who they serve, and why.
Aren’t mission and vision statements the same thing?
Mission and vision statements are very similar and often combined. However, they serve somewhat different functions.
A mission statement is a concise statement of purpose. It answers the question: Why do you exist?
A vision statement tells what will result when the mission is achieved. It answers the question: If your work is successful, how will lives be improved and how will the world be a better place?
How do you write an effective mission statement?
To write an effective mission statement, begin with a brainstorming session and answer the following questions:
What is your purpose?
What do you offer? What services or products do you provide?
Who do you serve?
What is your “winning idea” that sets you apart? What makes your offering distinctive?
What are the core values behind your purpose?
What are the most important measures of achieving success?
Summarize the answers into one short, succinct statement. Although many mission statements are several sentences in length, strive to write a simple statement of 20 words or less. Write in the present tense. Eliminate jargon and fluff.
Keep mission statements short, simple, and easy to remember. Be clear, concise, and compelling.
For example, LinkedIn’s mission statement is:
“To connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.”
What do they offer? Connection. For whom? The world’s professionals. Why? To make them more productive and successful. Only 12 words. Easy to remember.
Amazon’s mission statement is more than twice as long:
“To be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices.”
Would it be more effective if it were more concise? You decide.
TED has one of the shortest mission statements ever: “Spread ideas.” It works well when you have a basic understanding of what TED is and does.
What is your mission statement? Is it as compelling as it could be?
How do you write an effective vision statement?
Similar to writing a mission statement, begin with a brainstorming session. Use your mission statement to guide you. Involve your organization’s leaders and other stakeholders to generate the answers to these questions:
What are the long-term goals and dreams for your organization?
What is the human value in what you provide?
How does your organization improve people’s lives and make the world a better place?
What does your organization stand for?
What do people value most about how your organization achieves its mission?
Summarize your answers into a clear, concise statement. It should evoke positive emotions and be inspiring and motivating.
We looked at LinkedIn’s mission statement above. Here is their vision statement:
“Create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce.”
It describes the positive outcomes when their mission is achieved. It is inspiring.
Other vision statement examples:
Alzheimer’s Association: “A world without Alzheimer’s disease.”
Teach for America: “One day, all children in this nation will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education.”
What is your vision statement? Is it as compelling as it could be?
Take some time to create mission and vision statements. Revise dated ones if needed. Learn them by heart. Share them. Allow them to serve their purpose.
“You’ve got to think about big things while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction.” ~ Alvin Toffler
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