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Vision, Mission and Values

Vision

In the context of management, a vision is an expression of what the organization wants to become, what it wants to be, to be known as or to be known for. It is the long-term objective of the organization.

The vision comes from the leaders – it is how they express the future for the organization. However, it must be practical and feasible while representing a challenge for the organization. The vision must also be shared by the members of the organization so that everyone clearly understands what the organization is striving to become. To create a vision for the organization top management should identify the key potential influences on the organization over the next ten years in terms of the economic, political, social and technological influences.

The vision and mission statements are often merged into one statement. The vision and mission are types of objectives. Some refer to these are strategic objectives or goals but just because they are given specific names does not change the fact that generically they are objectives.

Mission

In the context of management, a mission is a quest, a journey to a destination in which the whole organization is engaged. The mission statement tells us what our goal is – where are we going. It provides the compass setting for the organization. It is the foundation of effective leadership. It is how the organization is going to achieve its vision.

Without customers there is no business therefore the basic purpose of a business is to satisfy a particular want in society and so create a customer. Its mission is related to these wants and is expressed in specific terms.

The mission statement should:

  • Give clear and unambiguous direction to all who serve the organization

  • Relate to the organizations current and future customers/markets

  • Express the benefits the organization’s products or services are to bring to the targeted customer/markets

  • Always look outside the business not inside. For example a mission that is focused on increasing market share is an inwardly seeking mission whereas a mission that is focused on bringing cheap digital communication to the community is an outwardly seeking mission statement

  • Express a shared belief. There is no point in publishing a mission statement in which people have not been involved in its development.

  • Remain constant despite changes in top management. Too many changes to the mission causes people to pull in different directions

  • Take into account all stakeholders

  • Take the medium term view (business objectives take the short term view and vision the long term view)

Only a clear definition of the business purpose and mission makes possible clear and realistic business objectives. It is the starting point for strategies, structures and processes. Processes will not cause the right results unless the process objectives have been derived from the mission. Find out  how to do this here

Values

In the context of management, values are the principles or beliefs that will guide the organization in fulfilling its purpose (achieving its objectives, accomplishing its mission and realizing its vision). Values are the things that are important to the organization.

An organization adopts certain values and not others depending on its vision. Values are the key to effective management. They are at the core of every decision, every action and channel the thought processes in making decisions and taking actions – they condition the behaviour of the people in the organization and the way internal and external relationships are handled. Values characterize the culture of an organization. Values may be expressed as principles, beliefs or policies, but not all principles and policies are value statements. For an organization to be successful it needs a common set of shared values. Values should not be sacrificed to achieve an objective or accomplish a mission. Such action sends out the signal that it is OK to bend the rules. In the long term, such action becomes endemic and acts like a disease throughout the organization and leads ultimately to its downfall.

Values might include:

  • Customer focus

  • Leadership

  • Involvement of people

  • Process approach

  • System approach to management

  • Continual improvement

  • Factual approach to decision making

  • Mutually beneficial supplier relationships

  • Honesty, integrity, and trust

  • Responsibility, respect, and loyalty

  • Relationships, privacy, openness, individual contribution

  • Freedom, confidentiality and financial security, life, environment and equality

  • Diversity, innovation, growth and competitiveness

These are all positive values but there are equally negative values depending on ones point of view. Fear, tension, pressure, duplicity, uniformity, exploitation, secrecy and discrimination may be appropriate values for some organizations to fulfil their vision!

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Last amended 24/08/2013
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