Most companies have both a mission statement and a vision statement, because they serve two distinctly different purposes:
According to Graham Kenny, "Mission statement describes what business the organization is in (and what it isn’t) both now and projecting into the future. Its aim is to provide focus for management and staff. A consulting firm might define its mission by the type of work it does, the clients it caters to, and the level of service it provides. For example: “We’re in the business of providing high-standard assistance on performance assessment to middle to senior managers in medium-to-large firms in the finance industry.”
A vision statement says what the organization wishes to be like in some years’ time. It’s usually drawn up by senior management, in an effort to take the thinking beyond day-to-day activity in a clear, memorable way. For instance, the Swedish company Ericsson (a global provider of communications equipment, software, and services) defines its vision as being “the prime driver in an all-communicating world.”
Another, and perhaps the most important purpose of the Vision Statement is to inspire the employees to do their best work every day; to work toward a common good. (Sorry, but I don’t think Ericsson’s vision statement is particularly memorable or inspiring. It may be clear, but if I were an Ericsson employee, it wouldn’t excite me to get out of bed in the morning.)
A well-written vision statement is useful in giving employees day-to-day guidance; a “north star,” if you will, for doing their jobs. And “well-written” means clear, simple and inspiring; easy for anyone to understand. And if it’s clear and easy to understand, it’s easier for every employee to act out in doing their day-to-day work.
An excellent example of this is the Vision Statement at the Intercontinental Hotel Bali Resort. The Statement says simply, “Our guests want to return.” This five-word vision statement provides more clarity than any other I’ve seen, and the simplicity has a lot to do with its ability to guide employee behavior. This excerpt from a 2014 review on TripAdvisor is a good example:
“All the staff at this hotel from the cleaners, gardeners to management make you feel welcomed, comfortable, happy, and special! Everyone is made to feel like a VIP.”
And clarity of vision and mission is what drives consistent, desirable action.
How clear is your company's vision? And can every employee tell you what it is? Does it inspire them to be their best selves?
Keep your Vision Statement simple, clear and inspiring to every employee.