Vision, Mission, and Values of an Organization


Vision, Mission, and Values of an Organization

Vision and mission both relate to an organization’s purpose and are typically communicated in some written form. Vision and mission are statements from the organization that answer questions about who we are, what do we value, and where we’re going.

Vision and mission create a target for strategy development. Vision and mission provide a high level guide, and the strategy provides a specific guide, to the goals and objectives showing success or failure of the strategy and satisfaction of the larger set of objectives stated in the mission.

Vision and mission statements play three critical roles. They are (i) to communicate the purpose of the organization to stakeholders, (ii) to inform strategy development, and (iii) to develop the measurable goals and objectives by which to gauge the success of the organization’s strategy.

These interdependent, cascading roles, and the relationships among them, are summarized in the Fig 1.

Key roles of vision and mission

Fig 1 Key roles of vision and mission

There are three reasons why an organization must develops vision and mission statements as shown above. First it helps the organization focus on what is really important. Although the organization knows what it is trying to do to improve the performance, yet it is easy to lose sight of this when dealing with the day to day hassles that plague all organizations. The vision and mission statements of the organizations help employees remember what is important as they go about doing their daily work.

Second, organizational vision and mission statements let people and other organizations have a snapshot view of what the organization is and what it wants to do. When the organizational vision and mission statements are easily visible, people can learn about the organization without having to work hard for the information. Then, those with common interests can take the time necessary to learn more.

Finally, vision and mission statements are also very helpful in having employees who are focused and bound together in common purpose. Not only do the statements themselves serve as a constant reminder of what is important to the organization, the process of developing them allows people to see the organization as “theirs.” It is common sense: people will believe in something more completely if they had a hand in developing it.

There are also many other reasons to develop vision and mission statements.  For example having clear and compelling vision statements can (i) draw people to common work, (ii) give hope for a better future, (iii) inspire employees to realize their dreams through positive, effective action, and (iv) provide a basis for developing the other aspects of organizational action planning process such as organizational objectives, strategies, and action plans

In any organization the vision, mission, vision, values along with goals and objectives are the important areas even though these are major areas in themselves. Vision, mission, and values are critical to what the employees do in the workplace and how they do it.

An employee may be less familiar with the process of developing vision, mission, and values in the organization than he is with formulating goals and objectives. Even though employees often see vision and mission statements posted on workplace walls and printed in various organizational materials, they tend to pay little attention to them and view them as part of the routine. If the employees are not involved in the process of development of the vision, mission and values then they tend not to give them much attention as they go about their daily work.

An organizations experiences success in team building and in its business if (i) it has clearly defined organizational vision, mission, and values, (ii) it has clearly articulated the vision, mission, and values, to everyone involved with the business, and (iii) it has meshed the organization’s vision, mission, and values, into those of each individual employee so that in achieving individual goals and objectives, organization’s goals and objectives are also achieved.

Vision

Vision differs from mission in that it is future oriented. A vision typically addresses where the organization wants to be after a number of years. The vision statement of an organization sets a dynamic and compelling view of the organization at some point in the future. It is an emotional driver to some ‘big idea’ or challenge that drives employees in the organization toward it. It is not intended for the people outside the organization. It is not a goal but rather it can be a wild, crazy, and even unattainable idea, as long as it provides a deeply emotional drive to accomplish something great that employees in the organization can get behind and drive toward.

Vision statements reflect the ideal image of the organization in the future. The vision statement communicates both the purpose and values of the organization. For employees, it gives direction about how they are expected to behave and inspires them to give their best. Shared with customers, it shapes customers’ understanding of why they should work with the organization.

The vision statement usually has the following characteristics.

  • Understood and shared by members of the community
  • Broad enough to include a diverse variety of local perspectives
  • Inspiring and uplifting to everyone involved in the effort
  • Easy to communicate

The following issues are important for an organization while developing its vision statement.

  • The vision statement includes vivid description of the organization as it effectively carries out its operations.
  • Developing a vision statement can be quick culture specific, i.e., organizations may use methods ranging from highly analytical and rational to highly creative and divergent, e.g., focused discussions, divergent experiences around daydreams, sharing stories, etc. Therefore, views of the employees, how they might like to arrive at description of their organizational vision, are important.
  • Developing the vision can be the most enjoyable part of planning, but the part where time easily gets away from you.
  • Originally, the vision used to be a compelling description of the state and function of the organization once it had implemented the strategic plan, i.e., a very attractive image toward which the organization was attracted and guided by the strategic plan. Recently, the vision has become more of a motivational tool, too often including highly idealistic phrasing and activities which the organization cannot realistically aspire.

Mission

A mission statement communicates the organization’s reason for being, and how it aims to serve its key stakeholders.  It is the organization’s purpose and values to all its key stakeholders.  Stakeholders are those key parties who have some influence over the organization or stake in its future. Customers, employees, and investors are the stakeholders most often emphasized, but other stakeholders like government or communities can also be discussed. Mission statements are often longer than vision statements. Sometimes mission statements also include a summation of the organization’s values. Having a clear mission statement can:

  • Convert the broad dreams of the vision into more specific, action oriented terms
  • Explain the organizational goals to interested parties in a clear and concise manner
  • Enhance the organization’s image as being competent and professional, thus reassuring funding sources that their investment was a smart choice

Mission statements are similar to vision statements, in that they, too, look at the big picture. However, they are more concrete, and they are definitely more ‘action-oriented’ than vision statements. Organizational vision statement should inspire employees to action and to dream. Some general guiding principles about mission statements are given below.

  • Concise – While not as short as vision statements, mission statements generally should get their points across in a concise way.
  • Outcome oriented – Mission statements explain the fundamental outcomes for which the organization is working to achieve.
  • Inclusive – While mission statements do include statements about the organizational key goals, it is important that they do so very broadly.

The mission is a broad statement of business scope, purpose and operation that distinguishes the organization from other organization. It defines the organization’s purpose and primary objectives. It defines what the organization does, who it serves, and how it serves (creates value for) its clients. It is designed to provide clarity of focus and direction for the employees in the organization. It also creates clarity of value for those outside the organization and answers the question of whether this organization can be of value to them and/or their organization.

The prime function of the mission statement is internal – to define the key measure or measures of the organization’s success – and its prime audience is the leadership team and stockholders. Mission statement is the starting point of the organization’s strategic planning and goal setting process. It focuses attention and assures that internal and external stakeholders understand what the organization is attempting to accomplish.

Mission has external orientation and relates the organization to the society in which it operates. A mission statement helps the organization to link its activities to the needs of the society and legitimize its existence. Purpose is also externally focused but it relates to that segment of the society to which it serves; it defines the business which the institution will undertake.

According to Bart, the strongest organizational impact occurs when mission statements contain the following seven essential dimensions.

  • Key values and beliefs
  • Distinctive competence
  • Desired competitive position
  • Competitive strategy
  • Compelling goal/vision
  • Specific customers served and products or services offered
  • Concern for satisfying multiple stakeholders

According to Vern McGinis, a mission statement should include the following.

  • Define what the organization is
  • Define what the organization to be
  • Limited to exclude some ventures
  • Broad enough to allow for creative growth
  • Distinguish the organization from all others
  • Serve as framework to evaluate current activities
  • Stated clearly so that it is understood by all

The following elements can be included in a mission statement. Their sequence can be different. It is important, however, that some elements supporting the accomplishment of the mission be present and not just the mission as a ‘wish’ or dream.

  • Purpose and values of the organization (products or services, market) or who are the organization’s primary ‘clients’ (stakeholders)
  • What are the responsibilities of the organization towards these ‘clients’
  • What are the main objectives supporting the organization in accomplishing its mission

The business mission statement of the organization reflects the core values and beliefs of the individuals who lead the business. To the extent there are large differences between the organizational mission and an employee’s mission, or between organizational business values and employee’s core values, there will be discord and friction for that employee within the organization. In order to assure happiness and fulfillment at work it is necessary that employee’s values and mission are in alignment with those of the organization. Employees have been known to become physically ill from the stress of working in an organization where their core values are at odds with the values and ethics practiced in the organization. In addition to giving structure and direction to an individual or business, well written mission statements are excellent tools to inform all stakeholders what is important and how the business is being operated.

Values

Value statements define the organization’s basic philosophy, principles and ideals. They also set the ethical tone for the institution. An organization’s values are evident in the statements that define the organization and the processes used to achieve its mission and vision.

Values represent the core priorities in the organization’s culture, including what drives employees’ priorities and how they truly act in the organization, etc. Values are increasingly important in strategic planning. They often drive the intent and direction for ‘organic’ planners.

Developing a values statement can be quick culture specific, i.e., participants may use methods ranging from highly analytical and rational to highly creative and divergent, e.g., focused discussions, divergent experiences around daydreams, sharing stories, etc. Therefore, visit with the participants how they might like to arrive at description of their organizational values.

Normally four to six core values are established from which the organization would like to operate. Values of customers, shareholders, employees and the community are to be considered while establishing the core values of the organization.

If any difference is noticed between the organization’s preferred values and its true values (the values actually reflected by employees’ behaviours in the organization) then actions are incorporated into the strategic plan to align actual behaviour with preferred behaviours.