Crafting Mission, Vision and Values Statements

Mission, vision and values statements serve as the foundation for an organization’s strategic plan. They convey the purpose, direction and underlying values of an organization. When developed and implemented in a thoughtful and deliberate manner, these statements can serve as powerful tools that provide organizations with meaningful guidance, especially under times of rapid change. Consequently, taking the time to craft relevant mission, vision and value statements should be carefully considered.

Mission Statements

The mission statement defines an organization’s purpose or reason for being. It guides the day-to-day operations of the organization, communicates to external stakeholders the core solutions the organization provides in society and motivates employees toward a common near-to-medium term goal. In short, the mission statement paints a picture of who the company is and what the company does.

A good mission statement should only focus on what is most important to the organization. It should be brief, clear, informative, simple and direct. It should avoid elaborate language, clichés and generalizations, and it should emphasize outcomes and the people the organization is serving.

When writing a mission statement, consider the following questions:

  • What do we do today?
  • Who do we serve?
  • What are we trying to accomplish?
  • What impact do we want to achieve?

Examples:

  • LinkedIn: To connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.
  • Twitter: To give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information, instantly, without barriers.
  • TripAdvisor: To help people around the world plan and have the perfect trip.
  • Tesla: To accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy.
  • Sweetgreen: To inspire healthier communities by connecting people to real food.

Vision Statements

The vision statement describes the future of the organization. It reveals what the company aspires to be or hopes to achieve in the long-term. The vision statement is inspirational and motivational but also provides direction, mapping out where the organization is headed. In this regard, it serves as a guide for choosing current and future courses of action.

 An effective vision statement should be concise, unambiguous, futuristic, realistic, aspirational and inspirational. It should not be generic but rather focus on outcomes specific to the organization.  

 When writing a vision statement, consider these questions:

  • Where are we going moving forward?
  • What do we want to achieve in the future?
  • What kind of future society do we envision?

Examples:

  • LinkedIn: To create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce.
  • GoDaddy: We will radically shift the global economy toward small business by empowering people to easily start, confidently grow and successfully run their own ventures.
  • Wikimedia Foundation: Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. That’s our commitment.
  • Amazon: To be the Earth's most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online.
  • Habitat for Humanity: A world where everyone has a decent place to live.

Values Statements

An organization’s values statement highlights the organization’s core principles and philosophical ideals. It is used to inform and guide the decisions and behaviors of the people inside the organization and signal to external stakeholders what’s important to the company. The organization’s core values shape daily culture and establish standards of conduct against which actions and decisions can be assessed.

A values statement should be memorable, actionable and timeless. The format of the values statement depends on the organization; some organizations use one, two or three words to describe their core values while others provide a short phrase.

 When drafting a value statements, some questions to consider include:

  • What do we stand for?
  • What behaviors do we value over all else?
  • How will we conduct our activities to achieve our mission and vision?
  • How do we treat members of our own organization and community?

Examples:

Gusto

  • Ownership mentality
  • Don’t optimize for the short term
  • We are all builders
  • Go the extra mile
  • Do what’s right
  • Be transparent

Etsy

  • We are mindful, transparent, and human business.
  • We plan and build for the long term
  • We value craftmanship in all we make.
  • We believe fun should be a part of everything we do.
  • We keep it real, always.

Summary

The mission, vision and values statements are the guiding forces behind an organization. The mission statement communicates the purpose of the organization. The vision statement provides insight into what the company hopes to achieve or become in the future. The values statement reflects the organization’s core principles and ethics. Together, these statements provide strategic direction for an organization, informing current and future business strategies.

Interesting in viewing examples from other organizations? Download our collection of of mission, vision, and value statements here.

Helpful Resources

365 Careers, January 26, 2018,The mission, vision and values statements [video file].

Bain & Company, April 2, 2018,Mission and vision statements.

 Diffen LLC, n.d., Mission statement vs. vision statement.

 Paula Fernandes, May 4, 2018, What is a vision statement?

 Linda Le Phan, April 12, 2018, How to define your company’s core values (37 experts share their advice)[blog].  

 William A. Nelson & Paul B. Gardent, March/April 2011, "Organizational values statements," Healthcare Executive, 56-59.

 Edward L. Powers, 2012, "Organizational mission statement guidelines revisited," International Journal of Management & Information Systems, 16(4), 281-290.

Britt Skrabanek, August 19, 2018, Difference between vision and mission statements: 25 examples.

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Apr 8, 2019
7:24 am
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