Knowing why you’re doing what you’re doing (your mission), where you’re trying to go (your vision), and how you’re going to go about it (your values) are the glue that holds an organization together. It is an essential part to building your strategic foundation and developing a strategy. You preserve these elements while your strategies and goals change and flex with the market. You may modify mission, vision, or values over time, but the intent stays unchanged and you will have complete clarity when making critical business decisions that impact your future.
Your mission, vision and values can sound abstract, esoteric, and downright fluffy to a lot of people, especially those who are burning to move forward with a real-world project. These people don’t want to hang back conceptualizing about people’s wishes and dreams. Don’t let being pragmatic get in the way of this important stage of building a strong foundation of consensus for your organization. If you don’t take the time to articulate mission, values, and vision on the front end as you develop a strategy, you’ll pay for it later when writing goals and objectives without a crystal-clear strategic direction.
With your planning team established and your schedule set, you’re ready to move into establishing, or reviewing (if you already have these statements), your mission, vision and values. To efficiently move through this phase, don’t confuse mission and vision. Mission is a statement about your core purpose, why you exist, and is best stated in the present tense. Vision is a statement about your desired state, where you want to go, and is best stated in the future tense. While you might find values interspersed throughout both your mission and vision, an effective values statement clearly delineates the guiding principles of your organization, how you want your staff to behave and interact. Because these three statements are foundational to an effective strategic plan, take the time you and your team need to get them right. However, don’t get stuck on wordsmithing and lose momentum in your strategy development and planning process; rather focus on intent and allow them to be drafts until everyone is comfortable stamping them final.