In organizational direction setting exercises with the corporate and fellow professionals some questions that come up quite often are given below:

(a)    What is the difference between the two?

(b)   Why have both – Vision and a Mission

(c)    Is the mission a road map to achieve the vision?

(d)   Can we have more than one mission statement or only one?

In my earlier posts I have shared my views and experience on the power of organizational vision and mission. The key take away of the articles were in terms of the strategic and inspirational value that they provide. They can make “The impossible – possible”.

What better way to share my thoughts on the difference between Vision and Mission   than with  the popular and most loved coffee brand – the Starbucks Corporation.

starbucks-logo

So lets examine their Vision and Mission statements -

Starbucks-vision

Starbucks-mission copy

The difference

Your vision is your dream, your aspiration, your “belief to accomplish”. The vision statement is a projection in the future. Note the stretch that is built-in when it reveals its geographic ambition as well as the commitment to earn respect by being a responsible global citizen.

The mission statement describes what business you’re in and who your customer is – how do you intend to satisfy them. As such, it captures the very reason for ‘your being or existence’ – your corporate identity, values and philosophy.

This helps immensely in the setting of objectives and building the overall company strategy.

Why have both?

This depends upon the nature of business, product or industry. Had there been no overseas expansion for Starbucks then one was fine. In this case Starbucks mission emphasis ‘finest quality’ and ‘uncompromising quality’. Therefore two – it need not be a hard and fast rule. Having both

Is the mission a road map to achieve the vision?

Though the mission statement is created independently at times it may have some linkage with the vision as seen in the case of Starbucks global dimension. A mission may or may not flow out of the vision – it is not a ‘road map’ to the vision.

Can we have more than one mission statements?

This depends upon the aspirations and values of the founders or top leadership. Though we do not advise changing the mission frequently as this affects the strategic direction. However when disruptive changes occur in technology or environmental issues assuming great importance then a revision may become inevitable.

Starbucks has done just that and come with two new mission statements. One focused on the ‘human spirit’ and another on their ‘environmental concerns’.

STARBUCKS-new mission statement copy

STARBUCKS -environmental mission copy

I request all my friends to read this approach critically and enrich topic discussion with your comments. I respect differing views and would love to answer your questions.

Thank you.

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About dilipnaidu

An open mind! Love to share my thoughts and a keenness to learn. An engineer and a MBA I had a wonderful innings in the Army and later moved to consultancy and teaching. My current interests are reading, music, growing culinary herbs and playing golf. I am serious on "Living life less seriously". A warm welcome to you be well and be cheerful always.

14 responses »

  1. Geetha says:

    This link is interesting:

    http://www.burg.com/2011/11/mission-statement-and-benefit-statement-i-and-thou/

    It has been a great learning experience for me from 23rd October, 2009 when I posted my comment on this post. Thank you, Sir!

    http://dilipnaidu.wordpress.com/2009/10/19/what-is-the-difference-between-organizational-vision-and-mission/#comment-2145

    • Dilip says:

      Hi Geetha, thanks for the encouraging words but actually it is you who provided amazing learning links.

      Yes Bob Burg has clarified the difference between Mission and Benfits statement nicely. I liked the examples too.

      Many thanks!

  2. Shrishailya says:

    This blog has really helped me to understand about organizational vision and mission statement. I learned that the organization works, think and acts by taking into account the vision and mission and mission statement.

    Shrishailya

  3. kartikks78 says:

    This is Kartik here. This article was very much informative. The difference between Vision and Mission has been very beautifully explained. Also why both these are mentioned separately has been clarified very aptly. Wish to someday write like you.

    • dilipnaidu says:

      Hey Kartik … thanks for you appreciation … we discussed this point in our class so the credit is due to the bright students :) I am certain you already write great stuff … and wish you all the best in whatever you do …

      Cheers!

  4. Dilip says:

    Hey Lata,

    You are absolutely right! Your last line is important – ‘direction & inspiration’ and that’s what a powerful vision really does!

    Well answered and best regards!

  5. Lata R. Rapola says:

    hi sir,
    Good Afternoon..

    According to me, the main difference between Vision and Mission is :
    * Vision – the future business scope that is “Where we want to go? ”
    *While Mission- the present business scope and purpose that is “What to do?, who we are ? and Why we are ,here ?

    From this, two the organization tries to convey to all the people their Vision and Mission. but question come why, it is necessary or important? or what it wants to tell us?
    Answer is it shows Direction, Aim and gives Inspiration to all the stakeholders.

  6. Sohan Dhande says:

    Hi Sir,
    Its always a pleasure to hear from you.
    The moment I gazed through this blog post, I went back into the time & browsed across your lectures. You always enjoyed teaching, so did we learning.

    Thanks & Regards,
    Sohan Dhande

    http://sohandhande.wordpress.com

  7. dilipnaidu says:

    Welcome Ashish,

    A nice question. You are right the confusion has to be avoided as it leads to wasteful effort with poor results.

    Yes vision is the ultimate purpose and the objectives flow out of the mission. When we achieve the objectives then we also realize the mission and vision.

    Wish you all the best and regards.

  8. Ashish Mahto says:

    Dear Sir

    I agree with your views. You have given great example which nicely sums up the essentials that often get skipped. I think most people often get confused as to what vision and mission is given their tendency to add many “meaning” to things or make life complicated.
    In my opinion, vision is the ultimate purpose and mission is the objective and practical realization of the vision.

    Thank you for the valuable inputs.
    Regards
    Ashish Mahto

  9. Geetha says:

    Dear Mr.Naidu,

    Is it possible to make the all-important shift from “good to great” and beyond too only if we have a Mission Statement which is upgraded periodically please?

    Thanks and regards,

    Geetha

    • dilipnaidu says:

      Hi Geetha,

      Your question is quite realistic. I wish to respond based on my own experience as a professional and also as a consultant – I have actually seen mission statements inspiring the organizational members to take on challenges much beyond their call of duty.

      However the mission statement has to be true to the beliefs of the founder or top leadership. Only then can it be used effectively to create organizational excellence. The leadership, strategy, objectives, culture come to proper alignment. One key word being it energizes the organization to achieve great heights.

      A true mission statement may not need periodic up gradations as it is the strategies that may need up gradations. This caters for change.

      Hope this is OK with you :)I thank you for visiting my blog.

      Regards

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