Vision, mission and value statements - what's the big deal?
I was running a workshop this week and one of my students, Jim, a former Metropolitan Police officer, made us all laugh with stories of how each time ‘The Met’ got a new Commissioner, a substantial wedge of cash was spent on a new slogan/mission statement. Sometimes a slogan would change from something like a “Working for a better London’ to ‘Working together for a better London”, and some flash agency would pocket a substantial six-figure sum. Nice work if you can get it!
People get them confused, and you end up with horrible taglines that are totally meaningless
In my experience, this business of mission statements etc. gets confusing and people often get them around the wrong way and get into a bit of a horrible mess. So as it’s January, I thought it would be a good idea to clarify what these things are and how to use them.
1. Vision statements
A vision statement is an answer to the question “where do I see my business going?”
They are generally written in the present tense and are meant to inspire and give direction to employees rather than customers. So, in essence, your vision statement is aspirational.
This is important for several reasons:
- It gives your employees a sense of belonging and they know why they are doing the things they do.
- It helps recruitment - a survey last year done by Linked In revealed that 74% of people looking for work said that they wanted a job where they feel that their work matters.
- It keeps the company, its partners, shareholders and staff aligned around a common purpose.
Vision Statement Examples:
IKEA: "To create a better everyday life for the many people.” (sic)
Anheuser-Busch “Be the world's beer company. Through all of our products, services and relationships, we will add to life's enjoyment.”
Tips for crafting your vision statement
Vision statements should stretch the imagination while providing direction and clarity. A good vision statement will help set priorities while challenging employees to grow. The vision statement should be compelling to everyone in your company, not just the directors.
Here are some tips to keep in mind:
• Think five to 10 years in the future.
• Dream big, and focus on success.
• Use the present tense.
• Use clear, concise language.
• Infuse your vision statement with passion and emotion.
• Paint a graphic mental picture of the business you want.
• Have a plan to communicate your vision statement to your employees.
2. Mission Statements
A mission statement answers the question, "Why does my business exist?"A mission statement is actionable and should guide the actions of an organisation, spell out its overall goal, and guide decision-making. It is like a goal for what a company wants to contribute to the world.
Mission statement examples
Microsoft - "Our mission is to enable people and businesses throughout the world to realise their full potential. We consider our mission statement a commitment to our customers. We deliver on that commitment by striving to create technology that is accessible to everyone - all ages and abilities. Microsoft is one of the industry leaders in accessibility innovation and in building products that are safer and easier to use."
Mercedes-Benz - "To delight our customers in everything we are doing. To continually improve the effectiveness of our quality management systems and our business processes. To have a team-oriented and open-minded corporate culture involving employees through leadership and individual acceptance delegated responsibility."
Tips for crafting a mission statement
- Consider what your business does for employees.
- Qualities like fairness, diversity, respect for ideas and creativity, training, tools, empowerment, and the like, actually really matter. However, since every business in existence at least says that it prioritises those things, try to find a differentiator and a way to make the general goals feel more concrete and specific.
3. Value statements
A value statement is a declaration that informs customers and staff about your top priorities and what your core beliefs are. You can use a value statement to help you identify with and connect with target consumers, as well as to remind employees about your priorities and goals. You sometimes find them called customer charters. In politics, you get manifestos.
Example of a value statement
Starbucks (I'll leave it to you whether or not you think they live up to it - ahem!)
'With our partners, our coffee and our customers at our core, we live these values:
- 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.
- We are performance driven, through the lens of humanity."
- A vision statement is aspirational and is about where you want to take your business in the future.
- A missions statement is what you believe in and answers the question, ‘why does my business exist?’
- A value statement informs customers about your core values and priorities.
So now you know.
Cheers for now