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Education Article

Establishing a Mission and Vision to Guide Your Organization

Establishing a Mission and Vision Guide

Excerpted with permission from the book Managing Service Excellence by C. William Crutcher

We explored in a previous article the importance of creating a values statement for your organization (and you, personally). Once those values are established, defined and implemented in support of a cultural change, your next step (personally and professionally) is to establish mission and vision statements.



NCSA's proprietary end-to-end Strategic Planning Model below outlines the overall planning process:

Strategic Planning Model

Your mission statement will describe "who we are" and "what we do" as an organization (or personally). Depending on the size of your organization, this statement might be developed by your senior leadership team or by various representatives from throughout the organization. Mission statements are often found on the organization’s website and in plaques on the wall as a reminder to customers on what to expect and for employees on living this part of the strategic plan.

Mission statements are intended to be brief and to the point. Straightforward mission statements help employees relate how their particular role supports its achievement. For instance, CVS Corporation’s mission statement once read: "We will be the easiest pharmacy retailer for customers to use." Mission statements should be worded in the attained state, and avoid words like "strive to" or "we attempt." Given this, we might have suggested that CVS change the words "will be" to "are."

The "how to" part of the mission statement falls to the tactical or operational component of the strategic plan to assure that the mission statement is alive in everyone’s daily duties.

An organizational vision statement identifies where the organization is going. Like the mission statement, it is usually developed by the organization’s executive team or an eclectic group of departmental representatives (depending on the size of the organization). It should be succinct and memorable. As an example, a vision statement for a transit company with whom we have worked is "A transit-reliant community." This does not mean that 100 percent of the community’s citizens must use public transit, but instead, that a portion of the citizens rely on public transit on a consistent basis.

The vision statement should be straightforward, assuring that every employee knows their role in bringing it to fruition every day in every interaction. An effective vision statement should be written in the future, describing an unattained state—one that has not yet been achieved. As the organization achieves this vision, it should be updated so that there is always a challenge to grow and be better.

There are experts who can help your organization develop initial mission and vision statements. It is up to you, as an organization (or personally), to implement them and keep them up-to-date. Mission and vision statements are critical precursors to an effective strategic plan. If you ignore the "who we are," "what we do" and "where we are going," you will not develop a meaningful strategic plan, and your organization (or you) will be less than you can be. This is not a strategy for long-term success.

Take the time to do your planning—and in the right order—so that you are leading your organization (or yourself) to the most successful outcome.

"The past is where you learned your lessons. The future is where you apply what you learned. Don't give up in the middle."
(Author unknown)