Mission, Vision and Values Statements: Definitions and Tips
Mission, vision and values statements are formal expressions of a company's goals, purpose and ethical standards. Businesses may use these statements to inspire employees or share them with the public to increase brand awareness. Leaders in any kind of organisation may benefit from creating and revising these statements. In this article, we define mission, vision and values statements, provide examples and give tips on how to write them.
What are mission, vision and values statements?
Companies implement mission, vision and values statements as a strategy to achieve goals and to advertise why they exist. A company may use them to motivate those within the organisation or communicate its purpose and values to other stakeholders. A vision or mission statement may affect decisions by investors who uphold certain ethical principles.
While companies may use these terms interchangeably, mission, vision and values statements each achieve different objectives. A vision statement gives a concise image of a company's future state. It may relate to a specific vision of the world, such as providing global opportunities for education. A mission statement expresses an organisation's purpose. It outlines what it aims to do and how it might achieve it. Values statements help shape the internal culture of an organisation. They establish standards of conduct and signal to external stakeholders what's important to the company.
Why develop a vision statement?
A company may develop a vision statement for internal and external stakeholders. For those within the organisation, a vision statement can motivate them and show them how their efforts contribute to a meaningful goal. For external stakeholders, such as customers, investors, government bodies or other communities, it provides an immediate image of what the company stands for and aspires to.
Tips for writing a vision statement
Some helpful tips that businesses can consider while preparing a vision statement include:
Consider the goal: A vision statement is the ultimate goal of the organisation. To identify a vision statement, it may help to describe in a few sentences the long-term change the company would like to bring about through its work.
Be specific: Companies typically try to avoid a generic line that could apply to any organisation or business. It helps to focus instead on the specific aspects of the organisation and how its long-term goal may be unique.
Use emotive language: A vision statement is most effective if it can inspire someone or evoke an emotion. Choosing powerful language can motivate those within an organisation and may encourage stakeholders to learn more about the company.
Construct a concrete image: A vision statement is about encouraging others to share the company's specific image of a future world. When writing their statements, companies can try to create a vision that's both aspirational and realistic.
Be concise: A vision statement may be most powerful if it's a single sentence. To create the most impact, companies may try to capture the essence of their goals by selecting their vocabulary carefully and keeping their sentences brief.
Examples of vision statements
Some examples of effective vision statements include:
1. Business selling electric bicycles
A small business that sells electric bicycles as a healthier and more environmentally friendly alternative to cars may have a long-term vision of helping people improve their fitness and contributing to a healthier and more sustainable environment. A vision statement for such a business may look like this:
Our vision is for healthy people in a healthy world.
2. Not-for-profit focused on education
A charity with a focus on global education may aspire to see all children go to school, no matter where they're from. A vision statement for such an organisation may look like this:
Our vision is of a world where every person has access to an education.
Why develop a mission statement?
A mission statement is a short statement that focuses on a company's present purpose. Companies or organisations may use mission statements to develop a more concrete picture of who they are and what they aim to do. A mission statement is more specific than a vision statement. It may focus on several short- or medium-term goals that the company hopes to achieve. This may include producing a high-quality product or ensuring that its manufacturing processes meet certain ethical standards.
Tips for writing a mission statement
Here are some tips to consider for writing a mission statement:
Quiz yourself: When preparing a mission statement, owners and leaders may think critically about what sort of company they're building. They may ask questions such as 'what do we do today?', 'whom do we serve?', 'what are we trying to accomplish?' or 'what impact do we want to achieve?'
Emphasise outcomes: What a company includes in its mission statement can have a direct influence on the strategies it implements. Companies often try to include statements that can lead to actions, such as 'our company aims to implement solutions to help promote sustainability'.
Be clear and direct: A company has the best chance of achieving its goals if its mission statement uses direct and easy-to-understand language. A concise statement may provide clearer information to consumers and help the company's employees understand their roles.
Advertise the statement: Companies may use their mission statements to promote their brand through a website or advertising platform. This can help give the public clarity on their purpose and establish their goals and values.
Revisit the statement: While a vision statement often stays the same, an organisation may review its mission statement as it grows. For instance, it might alter its statement in response to new technologies or a changing target audience.
Examples of mission statements
Here are some examples of effective mission statements:
1. Clothing company
A clothing company that sells outdoor and adventure clothing may aim to provide durable, high-quality clothing with a minimal impact on the environment. Its mission statement may look something like this:
We aim to build the highest-quality product, cause no unnecessary harm to people or the planet and invest in the most sustainable technologies.
2. Travel agency
A travel agency that provides tours for elderly travellers may offer multi-day bus tours with varying levels of adventure and aim to cater to all physical needs. Its mission statement may look something like this:
We aim to make travel accessible to people of all ages and abilities and create a safe and respectful travelling environment.
Why develop a values statement?
A values statement helps guide behaviours and actions within an organisation. It often includes a list of core principles, such as embracing difference or minimising waste. This helps to provide a moral direction for the company and its employees. It also guides decision-making processes and establishes a standard for assessing actions or potential violations. Sometimes, a company may promote a list of values as part of its advertising campaign.
Related: Guide to Company Culture
Tips for writing a values statement
Companies can consider the following tips while preparing a values statement:
Reinforce values: For values statements to be effective, it's helpful to reinforce them at all levels of an organisation. People in leadership positions may enact the principles their company seeks to uphold.
Share with the public: Being open about the ethical position of the company can help gain support from consumers and potential investors.
Be sincere: Values statements require an organisation to behave in certain ways, so it's imperative for leaders to think carefully about which values their company genuinely wants to uphold. If the leaders' actions match the company's statement, customers and other stakeholders are more likely to respect and support it.
Be specific: Leaders often try to tailor each statement to their company's unique culture. For example, instead of a vague statement, such as 'we care', they might say, 'we embrace difference'.
Make them actionable: Values statements are most effective if team members can see how each value translates into an action. For example, instead of saying, 'we care about our environment,' the company might say, 'we minimise waste'.
Related: Core Values: Overview and Examples
Examples of values statements
Here are some examples of effective values statements:
1. Health food store
A bulk food store that specialises in fresh organic produce and other health foods may provide vegan and vegetarian alternatives. Its values statement may include the following principals:
we embrace diversity
we minimise waste
we believe in the highest quality produce
we strive to be sustainable
2. Personal training business
A small business that employs people as personal fitness trainers may work with people of all abilities and have a focus on promoting healthy eating and positive body image. Its values statement may include the following principles:
we always stay positive
we aim to be our best
we respect all abilities and bodies
we take pride in our work
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