Ask any corporate worker what the most common concept is in their dictionary. They will rattle off three words like a parrot – mission, vision, and values. Despite their pervasiveness, very few people know what the meaning behind these concepts is.
This is especially true for vision and mission statements. Both of these concepts are extremely important when it comes to the growth and success of any company, no matter the size of the company, its nature, or type.
Here’s a breakdown of the difference between vision and mission statements, as well as some examples from top brands to help you understand these concepts.
Vision vs. Mission
We don’t want to bore you with corporate jargon, so let’s try to understand what these two concepts mean in layman’s terms.
The Vision Statement
What are the questions that are answered by a vision statement? What are the benefits and features of an effective vision statement?
The vision statement is a summary of what the company wants to become in the long run. It focuses on tomorrow and answers the following questions:
What does your company want to do going forward?
When does your company want to do it?
How does the company want to do it?
What are the problems you may encounter?
How will you solve them?
The vision statement answers the question about the future of the company. It gives direction and purpose, and it works as an aspirational tool.
Here are the benefits of having a clear and unambiguous vision statement
- It promotes internal as well as external growth.
- A good vision statement envisions holistic success for the company.
- It helps the team focus on what is important.
- It invites innovation and original thinking.
Having said that, it is crucial to incorporate some features in your vision statement to ensure that it is, indeed, effective:
- A strategic plan that is clear, focused and unambiguous.
- Realistic goals that are achievable.
- Time-bound to reach those objectives quickly.
- Memorable and engaging content.
- Hopeful and vivid in terms of painting a picture of the future
A weak vision statement or lack of one can lead to stagnation and a company that is going nowhere. It can also make your employees feel uninspired and unmotivated – a dangerous precedent for any business.
The Mission Statement
Understanding the advantages of a detailed mission statement, its features, and what questions it should answer.
On the other hand, your mission statement defines what you are today, and how your company is performing in the present. Here are a few questions covered under the mission statements:
- What is your company doing today?
- What is the benefit of your current strategies?
- Who does the company serve?
- How does the company serve them?
Your mission statement is ultimately what drives your company.
Here are some benefits of an effective mission statement
- It has a trickle-down effect that proved its value.
- The team feels inspired to move towards a common goal.
- It promotes teamwork and cooperation among different departments.
- It helps the company reach the end-goal quickly and more efficiently.
To establish a clear mission statement, don’t forget to incorporate the following:
- Cover the aims and values of your company.
- Define what your business wants to be and who are your clients.
- Outline the responsibilities of your business towards these clients.
- A strategic plan that aids the company in fulfilling these responsibilities.
- Socially beneficial causes to inspire your employees
A weak mission statement, or lack of one, can lead to miscommunications and misunderstandings between employees and departments. Imagine what flailing needlessly and unmotivated employees can do to a business. Sounds scary, doesn’t it?
Sometimes non-profit organizations use different words to refer to vision and mission statements. In this sector, ‘action plan’ refers to the mission statement, whereas ‘core values’ refers to the vision statement.
Vision vs Mission Statements – Key Differences
The major points of difference between the two concepts, what they mean, and how they differ in implementation.
The main difference between the two is the timeline, even though there is some overlap in features and effects. Let’s outline the major variances:
- The vision statement is focused on the desired position of the business in the future, while the mission statement talks about the current state, purpose and how to go about achieving that purpose. The former define what you would like to accomplish, while the latter focuses on what you are doing now.
- The mission statement is focused on the how part, whereas the vision statement is a description of the why part.
- Most of the companies have the same vision statement for the unforeseeable future, but the mission statement keeps changing as per the client requirements and other factors.
- A mission statement works as a management tool. It can be used to direct employees’ behaviors and expectations with respect to everyday activities. The vision statement is focused on the future and too generalized to be used for the daily operation of the company.
- The purpose of the vision statement is to motivate the employees, while that of the mission statement is to inform them. The former is focused on aspirations and is hopeful in nature. On the other hand, the latter is more practical and purposeful.
- The vision statement is usually shorter than the mission statement
Both mission and vision statements are important to each other. One does not work without the other. Remember – the mission is the precursor to the vision.
It is important for a company to have both – an unambiguous mission statement and a detailed vision statement. This is because both these concepts are intricately linked. The mission is the cause and it defines how the vision is brought to effect. For the holistic development of a company, both these statements must be clear, correct, and complete.
Vision vs Mission FAQs
Good vision statements are focused on the desired position of the business in the future, while the main components of mission statement include the current state of the company, its purpose and how to go about achieving that purpose. The former define what you would like to accomplish, while the latter focuses on what you are doing now.
When it comes to defining mission vs vision statement, it should be noted that the mission is always the precursor to the vision. This means that that the mission statement needs to be defined before thinking about the vision statement.
Here are the three parts of mission statement:
1. What is your company doing today?
2. What is the benefit of your current strategies?
3. Who does the company serve? How does the company serve them?
A good vision statement should cover the following:
1. A strategic plan that is clear, focused and unambiguous.
2. Realistic goals that are achievable.
3. Time-bound to reach those objectives quickly.
4. Memorable and engaging content.
Talking about mission vs vision, there are several key differences between the two, but once cannot function without the other. The relation between mission and vision statement is this – the mission is the precursor to the vision.
Namrata Singh is a dentist turned writer and clinical researcher. Eager to learn about anything and everything, she is what you would call a jack of all trades and master of none. With a zeal for reading novels, books and anything she could get her hands on ever since she was little, she embarked into a writing career purely out of luck. After indulging in a freelancing career for nearly two years, she can now write on anything - from dentistry to decor, travel to technology, medicine to management - but psychology remains her first love. Having dealt with mental health issues in the past, she hopes to raise awareness for the same and help people with her work in association with The MindFool team