After nearly 30 years in the hospitality industry, I’ve spent the past 6 years here at Orgwide working with some 80 different companies across 20+ industries. Most are Fortune 500 names with large workforces that are oftentimes very geographically dispersed. In all my experience, I have found a tremendous amount of confusion between Vision and Mission Statements. While most organizations have their heart in the right place, many are missing the mark on these two critical components in defining their company’s culture.

Why does it matter? As the late, great Yogi Berra has been quoted saying; “If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else.” Vision and Mission statements are meant as moral, ethical, and easy to remember guideposts for decision making and employee behavior. Sure, your organization has annual plans, budgets, and other operating documents – but the Vision Statement and Mission Statement should be far reaching and timeless. In this day of reduced labor, employee empowerment, and engaging your team – the Vision Statement and Mission Statement can and should ultimately guide employee behavior and decision making.

What is a Mission Statement? By definition 1 A mission statement describes an organization's purpose and answers the questions "What business are we in?" A Mission Statement:

  • Is present day and focused on “the purpose” of the company
  • Answers three questions about why an organization exists -
  1. WHAT do we do (What Business are we really in?)
  2. WHO do we serve (Who are our customers?)
  3. HOW do we do it (How are we different than others in our industry?)

In my experience many more companies have good Mission Statements than Vision Statements. In fact, I often see companies with Vision Statements that – by definition – are really Mission Statements!

Here are a few examples of good, well-written Mission statements:

  • Google - "Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful."
  • Applied Materials - Applied Materials' mission is to be the leading supplier of semiconductor fabrication solutions worldwide-through innovation and enhancement of customer productivity with systems and service solutions
  • AutoNation - To be America's best run, most profitable automotive retailer.
  • Harley Davidson - We fulfill dreams through the experience of motorcycling, by providing to motorcyclists and to the general public an expanding line of motorcycles and branded products and services in selected market segments

Then, What is a Vision Statement? By definition1, “A vision statement is a company's road map, indicating both what the company wants to become and guiding transformational initiatives by setting a defined direction for the company's growth. Vision statements undergo minimal revisions during the life of a business, unlike operational goals which may be updated from year-to-year”

A well written Vision Statement should:

  • Define a future state – In the perfect world, what would the organization be in the future. This statement should create a vivid image for employees to embrace.
  • Help employees draw a “line of sight” from what they do every day to the long term success of the company.
  • Be short and easily remembered - so all employees can recite it from memory.

Here are a few examples of good, well-written Vision statements:

  • Amazon - Our vision is to be earth's most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.
  • IKEA - To create a better everyday life for the many people.
  • Hilton Worldwide- To fill the earth with the light and warmth of hospitality
  • Toyota – Toyota will lead the way to the future of mobility, enriching lives around the world with the safest and most responsible ways of moving people.

If a company does not have clear Vision and Mission Statements and its employees can’t easily describe “where we’re headed” (vision) and “what we really do” (mission) then like Yogi says, “they could end up someplace else.” Additionally, well-written Vision and Mission statements provide these tangible benefits:

So, now what? You may not be in a position to change your company’s Vision and Mission statement, but does your department or division need a Vision and Mission statement to help empower decision making? If so, give us a call or drop us a note and we can help you get started!

1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vision_statement

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