step 3 Identify Mission, Vision, Values, and Goals


step 3: Identify Mission, Vision, Values, and Goals

Now that you’ve identified the key facts about your organization, turn your attention to your organization’s mission, vision, values, and goals. Taken together, these elements can help drive organizational decisions, positively impact employee performance, and influence many of the other organizational components you’ll be examining for this report.

The mission, vision, values, and goals should be reviewed periodically to determine whether adjustments are needed in light of key environmental factors or changes in the organization’s performance or capacity.

Follow the steps below to analyze your organization’s mission, vision, values, and goals:

Find your organization’s mission and look at whether and how it has changed over time. If it has changed, what process changed it?

Analyze the extent to which your organization’s mission (1) is well understood, (2) continues to inform key decisions, and (3) is well aligned with what the organization is actually doing.

If your organization does not have a formal mission statement, read deducing a mission.

Analyze your organization’s vision and core values. Consider whether the vision and core values are in alignment with and supportive of the organization’s mission. Are the vision and core values widely understood and accepted within the organization?

If you cannot find formal statements about your organization’s vision or core values, read Deducing Vision and Core Values.

Next, determine whether your organization practices strategic goal setting. Analyze whether these goals are explained clearly and whether they make sense given the organization’s mission, vision, and values. In other words, look for alignment of mission, mission, values, and goals.

mission, vision, values, and goals=

Mission and vision both relate to an organization’s purpose and are typically communicated in some written form. Mission and vision are statements from the organization that answer questions about who the organization is, what it values, and where it’s going. A study by the consulting firm Bain and Company reports that 90 percent of the 500 firms surveyed issue some form of mission and vision statements (Bart & Baetz, 1998). Moreover, firms with a clearly communicated, widely understood, and collectively shared mission and vision have been shown to perform better than those without them, with the caveat that these statements related to effectiveness only when strategy, goals, and objectives were aligned with them as well (Bart, Bontis, & Taggar, 2001).

A mission statement communicates the organization’s reason for being, and details how it aims to serve its key stakeholders. Customers, employees, and investors are the stakeholders most often emphasized, but other stakeholders, like government or communities (relating to social or environmental impact), can also be discussed. Mission statements are often longer than vision statements. Sometimes, mission statements also include a summation of the firm’s values, or beliefs in which the organization is emotionally invested. The Starbucks mission statement, for example, has described four guiding principles that also communicate the organization’s values (Starbucks, n.d.):

creating a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome.

acting with courage, challenging the status quo and finding new ways to grow our company and each other.

being present, connecting with transparency, dignity and respect.

delivering our very best in all we do, holding ourselves accountable for results.

A vision statement, in contrast, is a future-oriented declaration of the organization’s purpose and aspirations. The mission statement lays out the organization’s “purpose for being,” and the vision statement then says, “based on that purpose, this is what we want to become.” Strategy should be directly based on the organization’s vision, since the strategy is intended to achieve the vision and thereby satisfy the organization’s mission. Typically, vision statements are brief. Sometimes the vision statement is also captured in a short tag line, such as Toyota’s “Let’s Go Places” statement that appears in most communications to customers, suppliers, and employees. Similarly, Wal-Mart’s tag-line version of its vision statement is “Save money. Live better.”

Any casual tour of business or organization websites will expose you to the range of forms that mission and vision statements can take. To reiterate, mission statements are longer than vision statements, often because they convey the organization’s core values. Mission statements answer the questions, Who are we? and What does our organization value? Vision statements typically take the form of relatively brief, future-oriented statements and answer the question, Where is this organization going? Increasingly, organizations also add a values statement, which either reaffirms or states outright the organization’s values that might not be evident in the mission or vision statements.

Roles Played by Mission and Vision

Mission and vision statements play three critical roles: (1) communicate the purpose of the organization to stakeholders, (2) inform strategy development, and (3) develop the measurable goals and objectives by which to gauge the success of the organization’s strategy. These interdependent, cascading roles, and the relationships among them, are summarized in the figure below.

Key Roles of Mission and Vision

First, mission and vision provide a vehicle for communicating an organization’s purpose and values to all key stakeholders. Stakeholders are those key parties who have some influence over the organization or stake in its future, including employees, customers, investors, suppliers, and institutions such as governments. Typically, these statements are widely circulated and discussed often so that their meaning is broadly understood, shared, and internalized. The better employees understand an organization’s purpose, through its mission and vision, the more able they will be to understand the strategy and its implementation.

Second, mission and vision create a target for strategy development. One criterion of a good strategy is how well it helps the firm achieve its mission and vision. To better understand the relationship among mission, vision, and strategy, it is sometimes helpful to visualize them collectively as a funnel. At the broadest part of the funnel, you find the inputs into the mission statement. Toward the narrower part of the funnel, you find the vision statement, which has distilled the mission in a way that it can guide the development of strategy. In the narrowest part of the funnel, you find the strategy—it is clear and explicit about what the firm will do, and not do, to achieve the vision.

Vision statements also provide a bridge between the mission and the strategy. In that sense, the best vision statements create a tension and restlessness with regard to the status quo. They foster a spirit of continuous innovation and improvement. London Business School professors Gary Hamel and C. K. Prahalad (1993) describe this tense relationship between vision and strategy as stretch and ambition. Indeed, in a study of CNN, British Airways, and Sony, they found that these firms displaced competitors with stronger reputations and deeper pockets through their ambition to stretch their organizations in more innovative ways.

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