The best companies have strong vision and mission. Of course they do. This should seem obvious. But unfortunately, it isn’t.
Many get confused by what vision and mission are. They may think that vision and mission statements are just words on a wall that don’t matter. This is wrong. Vision and mission do matter. In fact, they matter a lot!
A vision provides a company’s True North. The vision gives a company direction. It provides purpose. The vision is aspirational to everyone involved. This is the essence of a company’s why.
A mission drives the company towards this vision. The mission succinctly communicates what the company does and how to help achieve this purpose.
I advise many companies about their go-to-market and sales strategies. One of the first questions I always ask is “What is your mission?” You’d be amazed how many executives, even CEOs, can’t answer this simple question. In some instances, each executive is very clear on the mission. The problem is, sometimes, different executives have different definitions of the mission. And they wonder why there isn’t alignment or clarity of focus?
Other times, execs are just misguided by what a mission actually is. Who can even count the number of times I’ve asked a CEO the company’s mission, and the answer went something like this: “Our mission is to get 25% market share in our space.” Huh? That’s a goal. Maybe an OKR (Objective and Key Result.) That’s definitely not a mission.
Why do vision and mission matter?
To provide a single unifying purpose for why the company exists
Ideally, every person in an organization, from the CEO down to each individual contributor, can succinctly articulate the company’s vision and mission. The vision and mission provide a sense of “why”; a clear sense of purpose.
To define the company’s True North and the roadmap to get there
The vision sets the True North, an aspirational goal a company can work towards in perpetuity. The mission defines the what and how, providing daily inspiration guiding the strategy and operations on the roadmap towards True North.
To influence culture and values
Companies thrive when employees are passionate about what they do. Employees thrive when they feel connected to their company’s purpose and can make daily progress and impact driving towards that purpose. A company is more likely to have a strong culture when people come to work every day passionate about their company’s vision and mission. People positively unite and are more productive and cohesive when they work towards a common purpose.
To drive alignment and inform decision-making
How can you create a map of where to go if you don’t know the final destination? How can you corral everyone to head in the same direction if they don’t know where they are going? Imagine a world where each person has a car and is told to drive but isn’t given an endpoint. People may drive to interesting locations, but they will end up all over the map. If you have the same starting point and identify the same final destination, there may be many different possible routes, but at least everyone is driving in the same direction. The fun part is debating the best, strategic, and most direct routes to the defined end point.
To communicate who you are and why to the world
Who are we? Why does anyone care? Why are we different from everyone else? We struggle to answer these questions. Companies connect with customers, employees, partners, investors, and the world at large by telling their unique company story. Their vision and mission help tell this story. They give a company its personality; its identity.
Vision and mission are important! Vision and mission ensure everyone on the journey has a unified purpose and is headed towards the same final destination.