Mission Statement vs Vision Statement: Do You Know the Difference?
Organizations in every industry use vision and mission statements to develop goals and direct operations. While the two both guide efforts at a business, they are separate concepts serving distinct purposes. Understanding these ideas and how they differ is integral to defining your company and setting clear goals.
What Is a Mission Statement?
A mission statement is a broad description of an organization’s core values and reason for existence. Most mission statements are brief—approximately two to three sentences long—explaining what your business does and how it accomplishes those tasks. It may also detail products and services, target audiences, and where you are based.
The mission statement is the central driving force behind your company. It informs your goals and objectives and determines your culture. Therefore, it may seem that a mission statement is a long-term guiding principle of your business. However, mission statements are more dynamic in practice. For instance, new trends in technology may alter an organization’s mission in terms of the products they create or the markets they serve.
While missions are adaptable, a company should not expect to modify them constantly. In some cases, a mission may outlive internal and external changes and evolve gradually over time. Ultimately, your business has some flexibility when designing a mission statement.
What Is an Example of a Mission Statement?
Consider the mission statement of the United States Army: “To deploy, fight and win our nation’s wars by providing ready, prompt and sustained land dominance by Army forces across the full spectrum of conflict as part of the joint force.”
This mission statement expresses what the U.S. Army does, how they do it, and who they serve—the country. The description is only one sentence, but it conveys the general idea of what this organization’s efforts revolve around.
What Is a Vision Statement?
A vision statement is a motivational tool for customers and investors to support your business and employees to strive towards this ambition. A synonym for vision is the word dream, which sums up the purpose of a vision statement. It focuses on an ideal situation that does not exist yet, but one that your company hopes to see one day.
Like a mission statement, a vision is only a few sentences long. It is specific enough to provide people with a clear understanding of the organization’s aspirations, but not so weighed down with details that it limits its ability in the face of new developments in politics, technology, and similar areas. Additionally, it may offer some insight into your company’s core values and goals.
Besides giving information on the company’s objectives, a mission statement will discuss what problems it seeks to solve or systems it wishes to change. In this way, the vision often conveys a spirit of innovation.
What Is an Example of a Vision Statement?
VersAbility, a non-profit group dedicated to helping people with disabilities have productive and fulfilling lives, offers a clear and concise vision statement on its website: “We envision a world where people with disabilities enjoy dignified, productive lives of their choosing as fully accepted members of society.”
Notice how this declaration does not get into the specific details on how VersAbility plans to accomplish this goal. Instead, it focuses on the future it hopes to build with its service and leaves open the methods VersAbility will use to make this dream a reality.
Mission vs. Vision Statement: What Is the Difference?
The mission and vision statement are both short descriptions of a company and generally appear in the same place on the website. As a result, businesses often conflate the terms when constructing their mission and vision. However, distinguishing the two will help you better define your organization and potentially provide more clarity to your strategic planning. Consider the following differences between each concept to guide your efforts:
- Purpose: The mission statement usually answers the “what” and “how” aspects of a company, while the vision statement is more concerned with the “why”.
- Permanence: Businesses have more freedom to change mission statements, while vision statements are enduring.
- Target audience: While not always the case, a mission statement speaks more to consumers, and a vision statement is geared towards employees and prospective recruits.
Do You Need a Mission and Vision Statement?
A business without a mission and vision will not last long. If your organization does not have these statements, now is the time to begin formulating them. The following steps will help you develop strong mission and visions statements that accurately convey the goals and aspirations of your company:
Tips for Crafting the Mission Statement
The mission statement should be concise and reflect long-term goals for your business. While it is more focused than the vision statement, you should avoid limiting your objectives. For instance, you may not want to mention specific products or services if you plan on expanding your offerings in the near future. However, remember you still have leeway to adjust the mission statement. Before posting a mission statement publicly, consult your employees to see if there are areas for improvement.
Tips for Crafting a Vision Statement
Start by reflecting on where you hope to see your business in a few years. Ask yourself questions about your goals, why they matter, and your primary audiences, as these answers can guide your vision. While you should strive to be ambitious, you should also be reasonable to avoid making promises you cannot meet. Finally, a vision statement should show the unique benefits your organization brings to the industry. What makes your business different if you have competitors delivering the same products and services?
As with the mission statement, keep your vision short and communicate with your staff before setting it in stone. Since your employees are responsible for carrying out the vision, it is vital to speak with them to understand their motivations better.
Seek Guidance with Your Mission and Vision
If your business needs help creating a mission or vision statement, you can reach out to Spider Strategies for solutions. Our goal is to empower organizations to enhance their strategic planning through intuitive, powerful, and methodology-agnostic performance management software. Our team is committed to putting our customers’ needs first and allows prospective clients to test-drive Spider Impact risk-free for 30 days before making a purchase.
With 19 years in business, Spider Strategies has provided organizations in more than 50 industries with our software. Contact us today to learn more about our services or schedule a live, personalized demo with one of our customer success advocates.
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