I am happy to say that in this video, I officially address a question I receive all the time. I am constantly asked, “What is the difference between and the importance of vision, mission, and values in our organization?” Therefore, I have dedicated this straightforward video blog to answering. As all kinds of organizations ask me this question — non-for profits, associations, small businesses, startups, major businesses, etc. — all kinds can benefit from the answer.
Some good news about vision, mission, and values that I would like to share before I define them is this:
- Not having a vision, mission, and values will not destroy your organization.
- You do not have to keep the same vision, mission, and values forever.
Therefore, companies without these features can remain calm, but as a vision, mission, and values are very important to the health and success of your business, you should consider implementing them soon, and you should know the basic definitions in order to do so. Here are my explanations of vision, mission, and values:
I like to think of the vision as the statement that answers the questions of “Where do you want to go?” and “What do you want the future of your organization to look like?” The vision can be set by the owner, CEO, or director of the organization, but it is usually best to involve the staff, the board, and other key people in the process of shaping the vision. Many companies put metrics in their vision, but these metrics do not have to be superlatives. You do not have to set a vision to be the best in the world! Being a good, profitable, or highly respected company is perfectly acceptable because the price you have to pay to be the best in the world is very high.
The mission statement answers the question: “Why does your organization exist? Why are we trying to reach that vision?” One of the best ways to understand the mission statement is to think, “Who would miss you if your organization ceased to exist?” All types of organizations, such as for-profits, not-for-profits, and associations, should use the answer to this question, which should focus on who you are serving and what services you provide, to direct them. The mission promises a company that if they continue to do what they have determined to do every day, then one day, they will achieve their vision.
Values are, in my opinion, the most important of these three aspects of your company, so it is crucial to make your values exactly what you want them to be. Many people say that values are not made, they are discovered, and while that is true in part — some of them do come about naturally — it is also true that some of your core values should be created. Some core values are discovered through how you behave now, but others can be chosen as inspiration. Whenever your company is establishing your vision, mission, and values, remember that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication: you only need the values that are the most fundamental to who you are. Values can actually have such weight in a company that if an employee violates them, they are immediately terminated. If people violate the values and are not terminated, or are actually rewarded, that communicates to the rest of the world that your company really does not care about your values, and this message will cause you to lose all credibility and leadership.
These things can be very confusing, but I hope that this video makes them clear and simple. The vision, mission, and values of your company are things that serve value to the marketplace and can drive outstanding business behavior when everyone in your company is excited about them and committed to them.
I hope you found this helpful — John