In our November blog, we talked about early New Year’s resolutions. If you didn’t make New Year’s resolutions, you can still create a few new ones to help your business. Today’s blog focuses on mission and vision statements. Whether you have them, wish to refine them or be inspired by reading someone else’s, I hope this topic will spark some introspective thinking.
Many studies have concluded that companies with a well-conceived, effective mission and vision statement perform better than those that do not. A Bart, Bontis and Tagger (Christopher K. Bart, Nick Bontis, Simon Taggar, (2001) “A model of the impact of mission statements on firm performance”, Management Decision, Vol. 39 Iss: 1, pp.19 – 35) study determined that the degree to which an organization aligns its internal structure, policies and procedures with its mission has positive effects on employee behavior and a direct correlation to financial performance.
Inc. Magazine (Developing Effective Mission and Vision Statements, Feb. 1, 2005) says having a mission and vision provides direction for a new or small business, which in turn allows the firm to pursue activities that lead the organization forward and avoid devoting resources to activities that do not.
Mission and Vision Statements-Definitions
Before we get into what mission and vision statements do for your business, let’s discuss what they are. Many confuse the two, most commonly talking about vision when they’re really describing the mission.
In simple terms, a mission statement describes the present state and purpose of your organization, and answers: Who you serve, What you do, and How you do it. It should be written succinctly, in one to three sentences, and focus on your current state.
A vision statement is just that, where you envision your company will be in the future, the desired optimal future state. It provides guidance as to what your company will focus on achieving. It should be a short, inspirational message that’s easy for your members to remember and repeat.
Mission and Vision Statements-Benefits
Mission and vision statements for small business have both internal and external purposes and benefits. Typically, organizational leaders create mission and vision statements but should include managers, employees, investors and customers. Interviews, working groups, surveys or even focus groups are viable methods to ensure collaboration, ownership and buy-in. The process of small business strategic planning includes the development of goals and objectives, among many other things. This process lends naturally to the development of a meaningful mission and vision – they convey the following:
- The business’ culture, values and strategy
- The commitment the business has to its stakeholders: customers (community), employees and investors
- Buy-in and support throughout the company
Internal benefits of mission and visions statements are:
- Guide management’s thinking on critical issues during times of change
- Guide employees’ decision-making
- Help define performance standards and a framework for ethical behavior
- Inspire employees to be more productive through commitment to common goals
External benefits of mission and vision statements are:
- Enlist and encourage external support
- Provide a better link and communications with suppliers, investors and partners
- Act as a public relations tool to “tell the company story” to community, media and others
Meaningful mission and vision statements are important to:
- Attract, engage and retain the best talent
- Build buy-in to and increase organizational culture, pride and spirit
- Leverage company resources dedicated through strategic planning to increase productivity
- Attract, engage and retain a loyal, satisfied customer and referral base
Mission and Vision Statements-Examples
Here are a few examples of great mission/vision statements:
Cleveland Clinic (Nonprofit):
The mission of Cleveland Clinic is to provide better care of the sick, investigation into their problems, and further education of those who serve.
The vision of Cleveland Clinic: Striving to be the world’s leader in patient experience, clinical outcomes, research and education.
Ford Motor Company (Corporation):
Mission: People working together as a lean, global enterprise for automotive leadership, as measured by customer, employee, dealer, investor, supplier, union/council, and community satisfaction.
Vision: To become the world’s leading Consumer Company for automotive products and services.
Allensburg’s Food and Gas (Independent):
The mission of Allensburg’s Food and Gas is to offer commuters on Highway 310 competitive gas prices and great food. The company will make a healthy profit for its owners and provide a rewarding work environment for its employees.
Vision: To become the preferred stop of choice for motorists on Highway 310 with a known reputation for value, quality and friendly service.
Creating and maintaining impactful mission and vision statements, those in which the key role players in your business contributed to, provides a constitution, a framework, upon which to base everything your company does on a daily basis. Most importantly this communicates the “Big Why” – in other words, answers the question, “What are we doing all this for?”
It’s never too early or too late for an organization to define and write down its mission and vision. Whether you’re a start-up just out of concept phase or you’re an established business, dedicating a modicum of time and resources to clearly an inspirationally communicate your mission and vision will reap rewards.
Mission and Vision Statements-Resources
Different resources are available for developing mission and vision, including online tools for guidance and creating work groups, pro bono organizations such as SCORE and professional facilitators to help guide you through comprehensive strategic planning.
Regardless of how you do it, it can only benefit your organization by communicating your culture, goals and values, and tie everything you do into why you’re in business in the first place. Consider this:
“Goals in writing are dreams with deadlines.” Brian Tracy — Dream Big, but be sure to have a plan, or else you’ll just keep dreaming. (Brian Tracy International)
Now it’s time for your feedback. Does your business have clearly defined, meaningful mission and vision statements? If not, why? What’s your plan to take this essential step? Would you like to see more topics about how to create smart, driven and effective mission and vision statements?