Mission, Vision, and Goals

Mission: The purpose of existence

The existence of the organization is based on its mission, which rarely changes. This is one of the few things that are constant in every organization.

Change

If the mission changes, then the entire purpose changes, and the organization will be headed in a direction different from how it began. This is fine as long as the leaders and stakeholders are convinced of the new direction.

Focus

It is imperative that the organization engages in nothing that will not work to fulfill its mission. Such a request or opportunity is to be rejected as soon as you determine that it does not help to achieve your mission.

Vision: A measurable destination in the near future

Where mission is broad and constant for the life of the organization, the vision is specific and will change periodically. Since the mission of the organization is broad in nature, it is important to have a more narrow focus for effectiveness.

Make it a picture

The vision of any organization is a clear picture of a foreseeable future. Such a picture will help to position the people and practices of the organization towards reaching the vision.

Make it narrow

Vision is narrow. The narrower a vision is, the more effective it will be. If the vision is too broad, it will be impossible to gain focus. Thus nothing significant will be accomplished.

Make it clear

Vision is clear. All the members of a given organization should be able to articulate the vision. The vision should be clear and understandable enough for anyone in the organization to state it.

Make it measurable

Vision is measurable. If your vision is measurable, you will know when you have attained it. Then you can recast a new vision based on the same mission of the organization.

You can make the vision measurable by quantity, quality, and time. If your vision is based on quantity, you are aiming for a specific number of people, products, sales figures, or any other item that can be numbered. Quality will focus on a desired property, behavior, or attitude. Time will be simply a specific time in the future.

Goals: Specific steps that lead to accomplishing the vision

Goals are tasks that are done on a daily or weekly basis to accomplish the vision, as the vision helps to accomplish the mission.

Make it specific

These goals are specific tasks that can be part of the regular activities of various employees. As various people engage in these activities, they are directly contributing to the vision.

Make it regular

Let your goals be part of your regular, everyday processes. Work it into the routine so people don’t need to consciously shift their focus to accomplish the goals.

Create systems

Work out a system for accomplishing your goals. Create patterns and processes that people can be involved in. Make sure they take ownership of it. Let them lead it.

Variations

Some organizations use the terminology of Mission and Vision in a different manner than we have used here. The most common usage is what we have been using for our purpose, where Mission defines the purpose of the existence of the organization. But some use the term Vision to describe that purpose. Both are equally valid as long as you are consistent with your usage. For our purpose, we use the pattern: Mission > Vision > Goals.

An example: The bus

The mission of a bus is to provide transportation to people. The bus exists for this purpose. The organization also exists for the purpose of accomplishing its mission.

The vision is like the board on the bus that shows the destination.  Once the destination is reached, a new destination will be assigned. In the same way, when the organization accomplishes its vision, a new vision is cast.

The goal is similar to the various stops made by the bus. Each stop is a step in moving towards its final destination. In a similar way, the goals of an organization are detailed tasks that help reach its vision.

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