April 2010: Vision-Mission Statements & Help with new Listening Seminar
Vision-Mission Statements: Clearing up the confusion
Lately, I’ve been working with several non-profit organizations on strategic planning. There always seems to be confusion about a vision and mission statement.
So, let’s see if I can wipe away the fog by referring to an insightful article “3 Statements That Can Change the World: Mission/Vision/Values,” by Hildy Gottlieb of Help 4 Nonprofits.
1. Is there a difference between a vision and mission statement?
"Yes," says Gotlieb. She says the simplest way to show the difference is to add the letters “ary” to the end of each word:
Vision is about what’s possible, the picture of the future you want to create.
Mission turns your vision into practice, i.e., the doing part of what you will do to bring that vision into reality.
2. Are vision and mission statements different for a non-profit organization vs. a for-profit company? "Yes, says Gottlieb. And therein lays a lot of confusion when I facilitate strategic planning sessions for small businesses vs. non-profit organizations. Here is Gottlieb’s explanation of the difference.
Vision statements for businesses should be about the future they want for the business, i.e., self-perpetuation. Thus, their focus will be on profits and in serving their customers for the purpose of self-perpetuation. For example, Southwest Airlines vision is “Doing the Right Thing.” So, what does that mean “Doing the Right Thing?” It’s answered by their mission statement:
“The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality
of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness,
individual pride, and Company Spirit.”
It’s all about themselves and the customers they serve as it should be if they want to stay in business, be competitive, and make a profit.
Many non-profit organizations exist for the betterment for the community, and not for itself. They are about changing our communities and possibly the world. Thus, your vision should tell the community what change you wish to create for the future of the community.
Gottlieb cites an example in her article that a crisis nursery for abused and neglected children had as their vision statement, “Our vision is to be the most effective crisis nursery in the state.” "NO," Gottlieb says, their vision statement should be “what is possible is a community where children and their families are safe.” Their mission statement should state what they will do to bring that vision into reality.
These are important distinctions to make because it will impact the strategic planning process.