Companies summarize their goals and objectives in Mission and Vision statements. Both these things serve different purposes for the company but are often confused with each other. While a mission statement describes what the company wants now, the vision statement describes what the company wants to be in the future.
A Mission statement talks about what the company is now. It concentrates on present; it defines the customer(s), critical processes and it informs you about the desired level of performance.
A Vision statement outlines what a company wants to be. It concentrates on the future; it is a source of inspiration; it provides clear decision-making criteria.
A mission statement is spelled out to narrate what the organization is about. It talks about what the company is right now. It lists the broad goals for which the company is formed. It discusses in details what the company does, what the structure is and what its plans are. A vision statement talks about what the company wants to be. It describes what the "vision" of the company is for its future. It lists where the company sees itself some years from now.
Features of an effective vision statement include:
- Clarity and lack of ambiguity
- Paint a vivid and clear picture, not ambiguous
- Describing a bright future (hope)
- Memorable and engaging expression
- Realistic aspirations, achievable
- Alignment with organizational values and culture
- Time bound if it talks of achieving any goal or objective
Features of an effective mission statement are:
- Purpose and values of the organization
- What business the organization wants to be in (products or services, market) or who are the organization's primary "clients" (stakeholders)
- What are the responsibilities of the organization towards these "clients"
- What are the main objectives that support the company in accomplishing its mission
This Slideshare presentation includes the vision and mission statements of companies in the Fortune 100:
edit Time frame
While a mission statement talks about the present, the vision statement talks about the future. The former mentions what the company is now while the latter describes what the company wants to become in the future. A vision statement mentions what the future will look like for the company if it follows the mission statement.
edit Developing a statement
When developing a mission statement, it should be seen that the following questions are answered:
- What do we do today?
- For whom do we do it?
- What is the benefit?
When developing a vision statement, it should be seen that the following questions are answered:
- What do we want to do going forward?
- When do we want to do it?
- How do we want to do it?
edit Which comes first?
For a new start up business, new program or plan to re-engineer your current services, the vision statement will be formulated first as it will guide the mission statement and the rest of the strategic plan.
For an established business where the mission is established, often the mission guides the vision statement and the rest of the strategic plan for the future.
edit Video explaining the differences