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.
So lets examine their Vision and Mission statements -
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’.
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.