Management & Organization

Mission, vision, goals and values

Create a mutual direction with mission, vision and values

You have probably been told once or twice that it is important that you have your mission, vision and values in place. Perhaps you even have them written on your webpage and in various presentational materials. But do you actually use it, or is it just written because “you have to”?

In this article we explain the difference between the three terms and engage why you have to work with the company’s mission, vision and values.

A mutual direction provides results

It is not possible to reach a goal you do not know. The same thing applies to a company. For everyone in the company to work in the same direction it is important that you have a mutual understanding of what it is you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it. This insight can be emphasized by articulating vision, mission and values.

An internal agreement and unity means that the company moves in the same direction and provides greater enthusiasm and motivation among your coworkers, because a clear image is easier to act upon. Besides a clear goal functions as action-ushering to both coworkers and management.

When you have articulated your mission, vision and your values, it is important that they are being used. Write them down, share them and make them part of your communications internally and externally. If you merely put it all in a drawer, the work is likely to be wasted.

Get the terms in order

There is a certain confusion surrounding the three terms. What is the difference between mission and vision? What are values for?

Mission

A mission is made in order to create a clear understanding of why the organization exists and what it wants to achieve. When the boundaries are defined, everybody knows which boundaries the company’s assignments must be solved within.

The mission also express the company’s area of business or industry and what it is able to offer the customers in this area. The mission is more specific than the vision and it focuses on the resources and capabilities that the company wishes to compete on.

The mission can be articulated by asking:
Why do we exist? What are we put on Earth to solve? What must we (not) do?

The mission can describe what types of assignments the company is solving and the desired effect from this. It can be an advantage to include coworkers in the process, so that they are part of defining their own workplace. The mission should be brief, easy to understand and easy to remember.

Vision

The vision describes a future image of the company. It is the mutual direction that the entire company must work to achieve. If the organization do not have a vision, the coworkers do not know where management wants the organization to move towards and which goals that needs to be realized.

The vision is widely articulated and describes the company’s overall goals. It provides an image of how the company wish to appear and be perceived in the future, and it gives the collaboration partners an understanding of where the company wants to go and in what direction it is working.

You might dare to say that a mission gives us purpose, while the vision gives us with direction. Along with the mission the vision also provides an important foundation for strategical choices (leadership).

A vision can be evaluated on several conditions. Even though there are no formal demands to a vision, there are things that should be taken into consideration when it is developed. The 5 relevant points in this matter is whether the vision is:

  • Is it in fact innovative and does it have a wide time frame?
  • In which degree does the vision take into account the possible changes in market and industry and what might cause these changes?
  • Does it separate from your competition’s vision?
  • How much will the organization be unified and in agreement regarding the vision’s goal for the future?
  • Can it be achieved, and have you taken into account the basic things that are necessary in order to follow the vision in the nearest future?

Even though you take the conditions above into account, it is not necessary to articulate a long and detailed vision. Short and broad visions are often better at indicating the direction you wish for the organization to take rather than a more stringent and limiting articulation.

You can advantageously involve the coworkers in the process. Perhaps add visual material to the vision.

Values

The company’s values acts as a guidance for the coworkers: How should the behavior be in the company? What do you want the coworker’s hearts to be driven by, if they are to be in sync with the company’s pulse? Ways, actions and the state that we want is in the values.

The values will consist of a mixture of preferences and the traditions that exists within the company.

The foundation of values is tightly connected to the organization’s mission. While the missions tells us what to do, the values tells us something about the way we complete the mission. The foundation of values is also connected to the vision – the values provide a shared heartbeat on the road to the vision.