Mission and vision statements are one of the most valuable assets for internal guidance and external communication that a business can have.
Do you want your company to make better strategic decisions?
Do you want day-to-day operations to be more organized?
Do you want the impact you plan on making in the world to be clearly defined?
Of course, you do! But you'll have to be able to confidently differentiate between the two statements first. You’ll also have to see the value of even having them in the first place. When you recognize the importance of accurate and concise mission and vision statements, you’ll jump on writing them right away.
Both statements drive the company. They are explanations of why the company exists in the first place. Unfortunately, sometimes there is a misunderstanding about the two statements, even among the top executives. If there is any confusion between the mission and vision statements, the company's results won't be optimal. Everyone must understand the clear distinction between the two.
What is a Mission Statement?
A mission statement clearly describes directives, goals, and strategies. It is the “what” and “how” of a company. It gives a brief explanation of the functions of the organization and the key objectives.
What do we do? For whom do we do it? How do we do it? A good mission statement will concisely answer all of these questions.
Mission statements define day-to-day activities and operations. They provide an excellent framework to establish employee behavior and set performance standards. The main goal of a mission statement isn’t to inspire, but it should still motivate the team to work toward a shared goal.
Mission statements often begin with phrases like the ones below.
- “We deliver…”
- “We provide…”
- “We are a…”
These phrases are designed to clearly specify roles and the objectives of the company. They are great for letting customers and clients know exactly what they can expect to receive from you.
What is a Vision Statement?
A vision statement is a brief, aspirational but achievable description of an organization’s ambitions. It focuses on the large-scale impact the organization is aiming for. It is the “why” of the company and a vision of the company's future.
This is why a vision statement is so important. It should inspire every level of the organization from the cashier to the CEO, as well as your public. No one should remain untouched by the inspiring words of the vision statement.
You’ll know you have a sound vision statement if it can answer these three questions:
- What do we aspire to become?
- What and who are we motivated to transform?
- What issues are we solving for the greater good?
A vision statement focuses on tomorrow. How will you change the world for the better?
The Difference Between Mission and Vision Statements
The significant difference between mission and vision statements is timing. Mission statements govern the here and now, while vision statements focus on the future.
Mission statements are directly related to the current circumstances of a company. What happens when circumstances change? The mission statement gets modified. This is why mission statements need to be flexible for an ever-changing company.
A vision statement is primarily the long-term goal that the company has set out to achieve. Unlike the mission statement, the vision statement doesn't direct day-to-day tactics within the organization. However, it should give employees a sense of what the organization aspires to accomplish and that they are an integral part of that.
Despite their differences, mission and vision statements actually heavily rely on each other. The “What”, and “How” mission statements offer and the “Why” the vision statement provides are both crucial to be a successful business. What good is a purpose without a plan and vice versa?
Tesla: Driven by Its Vision and Mission Statements
Tesla offers excellent examples of compelling mission and vision statements.
Tesla’s Mission Statement: "To create the most compelling car company of the 21st century by driving the world’s transition to electric vehicles."
Tesla’s Vision Statement: "To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy."
Tesla's mission statement is simple and direct. It plainly states the primary goal, the “what”, then declares how they plan to execute. Their vision statement is aspirational and futuristic. It clearly shows why they are in business.
Mission and vision statements are essential for the success of your company. They are written declarations of why you exist.
Mission statements are crucial to the functioning of day-to-day operations. They direct decision-making, promote clarity of effort, and clearly outline objectives. Vision statements offer the bigger picture and the desired outcome for a company.