Mission statements define an organization’s core values, purpose, function, and objectives. They tend to focus on how the organization should act on a daily basis.
Vision statements detail where or what the organization aspires to be in the context of its community, industry, or society in general.
|Aspect||Mission Statements||Vision Statements|
|Definition||Define the organization’s core values, purpose, function, and objectives, focusing on daily actions.||Describe the organization’s long-term aspirations, emphasizing the “why” and societal impact.|
|Focus||Present-oriented, addressing the “what” and “how” of the organization.||Future-oriented, focusing on the “why” behind the organization’s actions and desired impact.|
|Audience||Primarily targeted at consumers and external stakeholders.||Primarily directed toward internal stakeholders and employees.|
|Timeframe||Short-term goals and objectives.||Long-term goals and aspirations.|
|Specificity||Detailed, outlining current activities, values, and objectives.||Broad and aspirational, articulating the desired societal impact and change.|
|Content||Emphasizes functions, values, and core activities.||Highlights broader purpose, future impact, and societal benefits.|
|Revision Frequency||May be revised more frequently to adapt to changing objectives.||Typically more stable and changed less often as it represents long-term aspirations.|
|Importance for Organizations||– Aligns individuals within the organization towards common goals. – Needs periodic revision as objectives are met. – A weak or absent mission can demotivate employees and lead to productivity loss.||– Encourages the organization to reflect on its future hopes and aspirations. – Probes who the organization seeks to inspire and which societal problems it wishes to address. – A weak or absent vision can stagnate an organization, leading to demotivation.|
Understanding mission statements
Mission statements are action-orientated and clarify the purpose of an organization with respect to its audience. They may include a brief description of the organization or details of its functions, objectives, core values, and purpose.
In general, they are public-facing statements designed for the consumer – but they may also be used to drive employee policies and streamline internal decision-making.
Robust mission statements advance those within the organization toward a common goal. They will also need to be revised periodically with new objectives as the objectives in the current statement are ticked off.
Employees are unmotivated and directionless which leads to a loss of productivity.
By extension, the organization itself may jump from one idea to the next according to whatever is trendy but its disjointed and misaligned efforts will invariably fail.
Disney mission statement example
The Walt Disney Company’s mission is “to entertain, inform and inspire people around the globe through the power of unparalleled storytelling, reflecting the iconic brands, creative minds and innovative technologies that make ours the world’s premier entertainment company.”
Understanding vision statements
Where mission statements are the “what” and the “how” of a company, vision statements are the “why”.
In other words, what is the meaning behind the company’s actions? What is the “why” that motivates it to act in a certain way?
Unlike mission statements which clarify what the organization is currently doing to reach its goals, vision statements describe where the company wants to be in the future.
The aspirational nature of a vision means there is a focus on employees and other relevant stakeholders as opposed to consumers.
Vision statements encourage the organization to answer the following questions:
- What are our future hopes and dreams?
- Who are we inspiring to change?
- What is a problem we are solving with societal benefits?
These statements encourage internal and external growth and provide clarity on what matters in a business and what success looks like.
Like mission statements, however, a poor or non-existent vision statement means the organization is going nowhere fast. These businesses tend to be stagnant, unmotivated, and uninspired.
Vision statement examples
- IKEA – “To create a better everyday life for the many people.”
- Samsung – “Inspire the world, create the future.”
- Oxfam – “A just and sustainable world without the inequalities that keep people in poverty.”
Key Similarities between Mission Statements and Vision Statements:
- Strategic Purpose: Both mission statements and vision statements serve a strategic purpose for an organization. They help define the organization’s goals, values, and purpose.
- Forward-Looking: Both statements are forward-looking and guide the organization towards its future objectives and aspirations.
- Internal and External Communication: Both mission and vision statements are used for communication purposes, both internally within the organization and externally to stakeholders, customers, and the public.
- Influence on Decision-Making: Both statements influence decision-making within the organization, helping align actions and strategies with the overall purpose and direction.
- Motivational: Well-crafted mission and vision statements can be motivating for employees, instilling a sense of purpose and direction.
Key Differences between Mission Statements and Vision Statements:
- Focus and Scope: Mission statements focus on the present and define the organization’s current purpose, function, and values, answering the questions “what” and “how.” Vision statements, on the other hand, focus on the future and articulate the organization’s long-term aspirations and goals, answering the question “why.”
- Audience: Mission statements are primarily directed towards consumers, clients, and the public. They describe the organization’s actions and purpose to these external stakeholders. Vision statements, on the other hand, have a more internal focus and are often directed towards employees and relevant stakeholders, inspiring and motivating them.
- Time Horizon: Mission statements tend to have a shorter time horizon and are more actionable for daily operations and decision-making. Vision statements have a longer time horizon and provide a sense of direction for the organization’s future development.
- Specificity: Mission statements are usually more specific and detail-oriented, outlining the organization’s current activities and objectives. Vision statements are more broad and aspirational, articulating the desired impact and societal benefits the organization aims to achieve.
- Content: Mission statements typically include information about the organization’s functions, values, target audience, and core activities. Vision statements, on the other hand, focus on the organization’s broader purpose, future impact, and the change it aims to bring to the world.
- Revision Frequency: Mission statements may be revised more frequently to adapt to changing market conditions, customer needs, or organizational goals. Vision statements are usually more stable and change less often, as they represent the long-term aspirations and values of the organization.
- Nike: “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.”
- Starbucks: “To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.”
- LinkedIn: “To connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.”
- Tesla: “To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”
- Airbnb: “To help create a world where you can belong anywhere.”
- Spotify: “To unlock the potential of human creativity—by giving a million creative artists the opportunity to live off their art and billions of fans the opportunity to enjoy and be inspired by it.”
- Coca-Cola: “To refresh the world, to inspire moments of optimism and happiness, and to create value and make a difference.”
- UNICEF: “To advocate for the protection of children’s rights, to help meet their basic needs and to expand their opportunities to reach their full potential.”
- Microsoft: “To empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”
- Amazon: “To be Earth’s most customer-centric company.”
- PepsiCo: “Be the global leader in convenient foods and beverages by Winning with Purpose.”
- Google: “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
- Ford: “To become the world’s most trusted company, designing smart vehicles for a smart world.”
- Netflix: “To entertain the world. Whatever your taste, and no matter where you live, we give you access to best-in-class TV shows, movies, and documentaries.”
- American Red Cross: “To prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.”
- McDonald’s: “To be the best quick service restaurant experience. Being the best means providing outstanding quality, service, cleanliness, and value, so that we make every customer in every restaurant smile.”
- Mission statements define an organization’s core values, purpose, function, and objectives and focus on how the organization should act daily. Vision statements detail where or what the organization aspires to be in the context of its community, industry, or society in general.
- Mission statements define the “what” and the “how” of a company and often serve as the basis for the strategy that will enable the organization to realize its vision.
- Vision statements are more focused on the “why”. In other words, what is the meaning behind the company’s actions? What is the important problem it is solving that has positive implications for society?
- Mission Statements:
- Define core values, purpose, function, and objectives.
- Action-oriented, addressing the “what” and “how” of an organization.
- Form the basis for strategies to achieve the organization’s vision.
- Mainly target consumers but also guide internal decision-making.
- Example: Walt Disney’s mission is to entertain and inspire through unparalleled storytelling.
- Vision Statements:
- Describe the organization’s future aspirations.
- Focused on the “why” behind an organization’s actions.
- Address societal benefits and changes the organization aims to achieve.
- Primarily focus on internal stakeholders and employees.
- Example: IKEA envisions a better everyday life for many people.
- Similarities Between Mission and Vision:
- Both provide strategic direction.
- Have a forward-looking perspective.
- Used for both internal and external communication.
- Influence organizational decisions.
- Can inspire and motivate employees.
- Differences Between Mission and Vision:
- Focus: Mission addresses the present; Vision targets the future.
- Audience: Mission speaks to consumers; Vision to internal stakeholders.
- Timeframe: Mission is short-term; Vision is long-term.
- Specificity: Mission is detailed; Vision is broad and aspirational.
- Content: Mission highlights functions; Vision emphasizes broader purpose.
- Revision: Mission can change more often; Vision remains relatively stable.
- Importance of Robust Mission Statements:
- Significance of Vision Statements:
- Encourages the organization to reflect on its future hopes and aspirations.
- Probes who the organization seeks to inspire and which societal problems it wishes to address.
- A weak or absent vision can stagnate an organization, leading to demotivation.
- Examples of Vision Statements:
- Samsung envisions inspiring the world and creating the future.
- Oxfam’s vision is a just and sustainable world without poverty.
- Strategic Purpose:
- Both mission and vision serve as strategic anchors for an organization.
- They clarify goals, values, and organizational purpose.
- Influence on Decision Making:
- Both statements play a role in shaping decisions within the organization.
- They help align actions with the organization’s purpose and direction.
- Motivational Aspect:
- Well-crafted mission and vision statements can instill a sense of purpose.
- They offer direction and motivation for employees.
- Relevance to Stakeholders:
- Both statements communicate the organization’s intentions to stakeholders.
- They can be used to attract customers, investors, and potential employees.
- Concise Takeaway:
- Mission statements detail daily actions and objectives, focusing on the “what” and “how”.
- Vision statements set long-term aspirations, emphasizing the “why” and societal impact.
|Company: Apple Inc.||Mission Statement: “To bring the best user experience to its customers through innovative hardware, software, and services.”||Vision Statement: “To make a contribution to the world by creating advanced technology that empowers individuals and enriches their lives.”|
|Company: Google||Mission Statement: “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”||Vision Statement: “To provide access to the world’s information in one click.”|
|Company: Amazon||Mission Statement: “To be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”||Vision Statement: “To be the world’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find, discover, and buy anything online.”|
|Company: Microsoft||Mission Statement: “To empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”||Vision Statement: “To help people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential.”|
|Company: Facebook||Mission Statement: “To give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.”||Vision Statement: “To create a world where people can share and connect, and bring communities closer together.”|
|Company: Tesla||Mission Statement: “To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”||Vision Statement: “To create the most compelling car company of the 21st century by driving the world’s transition to electric vehicles.”|
|Company: Twitter||Mission Statement: “To give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.”||Vision Statement: “To be the world’s most influential information network.”|
|Company: Intel||Mission Statement: “To deliver breakthrough technologies for a better life and a better world.”||Vision Statement: “If it’s smart and connected, it’s best with Intel.”|
|Company: Adobe Systems||Mission Statement: “To change the world through digital experiences.”||Vision Statement: “Our vision is to make, manage, measure, and mobilize content that shifts industries and even shapes society.”|
|Company: IBM||Mission Statement: “To lead in the creation, development, and manufacture of the industry’s most advanced information technologies, including computer systems, software, networking systems, storage devices, and microelectronics.”||Vision Statement: “To be the world’s most innovative company, creating smarter technologies that enrich and simplify people’s lives and drive economic growth.”|
|Company: Netflix||Mission Statement: “We promise our customers stellar service, our suppliers a valuable partner, our investors the prospects of sustained profitable growth, and our employees the allure of huge impact.”||Vision Statement: “Becoming the best global entertainment distribution service.”|
Related Strategy Concepts: Go-To-Market Strategy, Marketing Strategy, Business Models, Tech Business Models, Jobs-To-Be Done, Design Thinking, Lean Startup Canvas, Value Chain, Value Proposition Canvas, Balanced Scorecard, Business Model Canvas, SWOT Analysis, Growth Hacking, Bundling, Unbundling, Bootstrapping, Venture Capital, Porter’s Five Forces, Porter’s Generic Strategies, Porter’s Five Forces, PESTEL Analysis, SWOT, Porter’s Diamond Model, Ansoff, Technology Adoption Curve, TOWS, SOAR, Balanced Scorecard, OKR, Agile Methodology, Value Proposition, VTDF Framework, BCG Matrix, GE McKinsey Matrix, Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model.
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