Jack Welch, former chairman, General Electric declared, "Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion."
A study by a consulting firm, Bain and Company indicated that organizations that have clearly defined Vision and Mission statements that are aligned with a strategic plan, outperform those who do not. It has been severally stated that if an organization cannot define "where it is going or wants to become in future" (Vision) or it's "reason for existing or what it is known for" (Mission); it cannot align its people, processes, products or services towards a successful future.
Not having a clearly defined Vision and Mission limits opportunities for the organization's success. If an organization desires engaged and productive employees, it should ensure that they understand their day-to-day activities, contribute to accomplishing the Mission (current state) and ultimately, the Vision (future state).
In our strategic business plan training programs, we observe sadly that most organizations do not have clear Vision/Mission statements. Where they do, they are poorly written or there appears to be a lot of confusion regarding the difference between a Vision and a Mission statement. Some Vision statements are actually Mission statements and vice versa. Some Vision and Mission statements are uninspiring, confusing, and sometimes, so long that they are impossible for anyone to remember or recite!
Any Vision and Mission statements that do not have a direct linkage with staff members as well as organizational processes and procedures has failed. A Vision is equated to a picture of a futuristic finished building project while the Mission is the building blocks and processes in the course of construction.
By definition, a Vision is described as a mental picture of a preferred future. It is different from a wish. It not a desire. It is radically different from a dream. For a business or company desirous of organic or inorganic growth, it is a must-be consideration. It defines the optimal desired future state; the mental picture of what an organization wants to achieve over time. It also provides guidance and inspiration as to what an organization is focused on achieving in five, ten, or more years. It functions as what all employees understand as their every day work which ultimately contributes towards accomplishing set goals over the long term. It is written succinctly in an inspirational manner that makes it easy for all employees to recite at any given time.
A Vision should be compelling, audacious and ambitious. A compelling Vision drives processes. It is shared by every staff of the organization. A total buy-in is usually the order. It is internalized and assimilated. It is recited at every given opportunity for emphasis and faith. A vision-less organization is compared to a rudderless ship tossed to and fro by the vicissitudes of economic tides. It is focus-less and cannot withstand competition and the slightest adverse changes in economic fortunes. All organizations from businesses to schools, churches to non-for-profit organizations that desire growth; any type of growth that equates moving from point A to point B in the success ladder require a compelling vision. It is futuristic and stretching yet attainable. No surprise the bible insists that a people without a vision perish.
Example: A bank's vision can be; To rank number one in deposit liability amongst Nigerian Banks by 2020.
This is measurable. It is specific. It is articulate. What the bank wants to become in the near future is clear to all staff.
It is thought that only blue chip organizations craft visions. While it is not far from the truth as it represents a roadmap to organizational success, it is now realized that SMEs and sole proprietorships require vision statements more. Individuals need it too. People should craft personal visions, then put in place milestones and measurement parameters to monitor performance.
People are generally agreed that vision statements should be:
- -Understood and shared by members
- -Broad enough to include a variety of local perspectives
- -Inspiring and uplifting to everyone involved
- -Easy to communicate and simple to understand
On the other hand, Mission statements are similar to Vision statements, as it also looks at the big picture. However, they are more "action-oriented" than vision statements. Your vision statement should inspire people to dream; your mission statement should inspire them to action. Mission statements are the building blocks to the Vision. Basically, it details the steps to be taken to arrive at the Vision. It practically explains the culture and character and dispositions of the organization to arrive at the Vision. An organization's Mission statement describes what it is going to be doing day to day and why it's going to do that.
A Mission statement defines the present state or purpose of an organization. It should be a concise statement of business strategy. It should be developed from the client's perspective. It should fit with the Vision for the business.
The Mission should answer the questions of; How do we achieve our Vision.
A Mission statement is written succinctly in the form of a sentence or two, but for a shorter timeframe (one to three years) than a Vision statement. As the Vision statement, it is also something that all employees should be able to articulate upon request.
Some businesses may refine their Mission statement based on changing economic realities or unexpected responses from consumers. Understanding the Mission gives employees a better perspective on how their job contributes to achieving it, which can increase engagement, retention, and productivity.
Having a clearly defined Mission statement also helps employees better understand things like company-wide decisions, organizational changes, and resource allocation, thereby lessening resistance and workplace conflicts.
Following from our earlier example on the Vision, the Mission statement of the bank would go like; To consistently deliver the best customer experience in all the bank's touch points.
This is not complex. It is simple and understandable. If it defines the work culture of the majority staff members in the bank and it is pursued and well monitored and measured, this will definitely improve the rankings of this bank within the time frame.
Vision and mission statements are very helpful in having members who are focused and bound together in common purpose. It serves as a constant reminder of what is important to organizations. Organizations are strongly advised to develop their Vision and Mission statements after an honest analysis of their SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats), market analysis, etc. People will believe in something more completely if they had a hand in developing it. The process of developing them allows staff members to "own" the organization.
There are many other reasons to develop vision and mission statements, these are:
-Shared responsibilities.-Culture.-Draw people to common work.-Give hope for a better future.-Inspire members to realize their dreams through positive, effective and collective action.-Provide a basis for developing organizational objectives, strategies, and action plans.-Convert the broad dreams of the Vision into more specific, action-oriented terms.-Enhance organization's image as being competent and professional.-Strengthen culture through a unified sense of purpose.-Improve decision-making with clarity about "big picture.-Enhance cross-functional relationships through a shared understanding of priorities.
It's never too late for an organization to define its Vision and Mission. Some even reinvent themselves through the strategic planning process, beginning with the two
The absence of, or poorly written Vision and Mission statements, are lost opportunities for:
-Attracting/engaging/retaining talent.-Building organizational culture.-Increasing productivity.-Being competitive.-Building up high energy levels.
Communicating a Vision/Mission statement.
One of the things managers struggle with most is communicating an image of the future that draws others in. Envisioning exciting possibilities and enlisting others in a shared view of the future is the attribute that most distinguishes leaders from non-leaders. Vision/Mission of companies/organizations must steadily be communicated and shared amongst members as often as is necessary. Unless there is a total buy-in, achieving goals and objectives will always be a pipe dream. There may be a need to add that circumstances can lead to tweaking if not total change of the Vision/Mission statements. However, as a well known author wrote " You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight."
Regardless of how an organization creates an effective Vision and Mission statement, it is important that they be embedded into the culture through clear and consistent communications from the highest levels of an organization.
Crafting a compelling Vision/Mission statement and ensuring it is a shared value and committing to its achievement is the first step to business and organizational success.