Mission Statements and Vision Statements are created to clearly convey the direction of the company. Companies without a meaningful Mission / Vision statement tend to be rudderless.
Mission and Vision Statements are all over the map. Some companies only have one or the other, while other companies will use a Mission Statement as a Vision Statement and vice versa. Used properly, Mission Statements and Vision Statements are powerful tools. They provide employees with a company direction. They provide the answer to which activities to pursue and which not to pursue. If an activity does not help your company move toward its vision, then don’t do it.
The prime audience for a mission statement is the employees of the company. A Mission Statement should be concise. It should reflect the company’s business strategy and focus on the customer. It should answer three questions:
– What do we do?
– How do we do it?
– For whom do we do it?
What do we do? This question should not be answered in terms of what you are selling to your customer. It is about how your product or service solves their psychological need. Your customer expressed ‘frustration’ over some problem and by purchasing your product or service, their ‘frustration’ is now gone.
How we do it? This answer should deal with the product or service that you are selling, how you will sell it and how it is delivered to the customer. It should fit with the psychological need expressed above.
For whom do we do it? This answer should identify who we will be marketing to.
Geico example – It is important that when severe weather threatens, you know where to turn for information to ensure that you, your loved ones and your vehicle are safe. Auto damage adjusters from around the country will help handle the claims this storm season. These adjusters will remain in affected areas as long as necessary to take care of you and every GEICO customer.
– What do we do? When weather threatens, we want to make you feel safe
– How we do it? Use adjusters from around the country
– For whom we do it? Our customers
A vision is a statement about what your company will look like in the future – say 10 years from now. A vision should stretch the organization’s capabilities and image of itself. It gives shape and direction to the organization’s future. It should be fairly short and easy to remember. Let’s look at some examples…
Microsoft example – Bill Gates’ initial vision was to have a computer on every desk. Employees at Microsoft worked to make the computer useful [applications that people wanted] and they worked to make it easy to use. Today, their vision is to help people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential. The initial vision had more meaning.
Sony example – Sony is a leading manufacturer of audio, video, communications, and information technology products for the consumer and professional markets. Its motion picture, television, computer entertainment, music and online businesses make Sony one of the most comprehensive entertainment companies in the world. Their vision could be clearer, something like ‘Sony will be the most comprehensive entertainment company in the world’ or ‘the world will look to Sony for comprehensive entertainment’.
Boeing example – Boeing has a long tradition of aerospace leadership and innovation. We continue to expand our product line and services to meet emerging customer needs. This vision is rather vague – they should be proposing what they believe those emerging customer needs will be.
Aerovironment example – AV develops and produces Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Efficient Electric Energy Technologies that enable our customers to rewrite the rules – of engagement, productivity, efficiency and safety – to their advantage. Aerovironment is a small company that went public recently. Their vision statement is quite clear.
While doing this research, I found it much easier to find a vision statement from a smaller company. The bigger companies didn’t always post their vision. Smaller companies appear to be more in tune to their vision than bigger companies. However, I would suggest that it is a mistake for a bigger company not to have a vision statement. It provides direction. What will the company be selling in the future? What does our customer base want? It keeps focus on developing the product or service of the future. It promotes innovation. It keeps you ahead of your competition.
There is an old saying – If you don’t know where you are going then it doesn’t matter how you get there. But if you know your final destination [your vision] then you and your employees will choose the paths that will help you get there.