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What is a vision? What is a mission?

Your organization may already have a vision statement and mission statement, but does everyone in your organization have the same idea about what they really mean?


Your vision and mission are the most important components of your strategic plan because they dictate what the successful future for your organization looks like (vision) and how your organization is going to make that future a reality (mission).


If you’re not moving towards accomplishing your vision or mission, you’re moving away from it, and that’s the opposite of what you want.


If you don’t already have a vision and mission statement, this process can also serve as an exercise to develop a clear and concise vision and mission statement. 


In this article we’ll be covering:


Why is having a vision important?

Defining a clear and articulate vision for what success looks like in the future serves as a guiding light for your team. If everybody knows (and agrees on) where they are going, then it’s easier to define important milestones and goals that will help you to arrive at your desired future state - your One Destination. 


What happens if people don’t have the same vision?

If your organization does not take time to develop a clear, aligned vision of success, each person will have their own version of what success looks like for themselves or their team(s). This means that you will have people working towards different goals, without moving towards the same endpoint. At best, this means that you may have high functioning people working in silos towards different goals and objectives. At worst, your people may be unmotivated, confused, unproductive and unable to make important decisions to align their teams and projects with the organization’s vision. 


The difference between having a vision statement & clear vision of the future

We often hear: “Our organization already has a vision statement, so why do we need to define our vision as a part of the strategic planning process?” In short, your vision statement is a long-term, inspirational statement that could mean different things to different people. While it’s great (and important) to have a vision statement, it’s also important to look at your mid-term vision on a regular basis. Working through a 3-year visioning exercise will help leaders and teams to clearly define (and become aligned with) what success looks like on a set date, 3 years in the future. 



Reviewing your organizational vision with a visioning exercise at a set time in the future (we recommend 3 years) will help your team clearly define what success looks like for your organization. When working through this visioning exercise, it’s important to be as specific as possible, and speak in the present tense as if you have traveled to this point in the future. 


Example Vision (Today’s Date, 3 Years in the Future): 

  • We have reached 10 million in revenue
  • We have an employee benefits program that all staff members are enrolled in
  • We are an established brand and people seek us out for work and employment
  • We operate 8 offices in 5 different cities throughout North America 
  • We are praised for our excellence in customer service 
  • Our products and services consistently rank among the top 3 in our field 
  • Our people are committed to continuous education and participate in 3 external training days/courses of their choice per year




What is a mission?

An organizational mission defines why your organization exists, what your organization does, and who your organization serves. 

Why is it important?

Defining your mission will help your organization to create clarity around its purpose, both internally with your people, and externally with your stakeholders and the public. Reviewing your organization’s mission allows your organization to explore who you are, what it is that you do (the benefit rather than the feature), and who your products/services are for. This process will help you narrow your focus on key stakeholders, articulate your value proposition, and set the stage for the remainder of the strategic planning process.


What happens if our people don’t know what our mission is? 

Another question we encounter is: “I already have a mission statement, so why is reviewing our mission an important part of the strategic planning process”?mission(3)
Just like with your vision, it’s important to get your team aligned on your mission when starting the strategic planning process.

Whether you’re developing your first strategic plan or starting the process of developing your next strategic plan, aligning your team with the mission is the best way to make sure everyone is working towards the same outcomes.

That way, they can make important decisions that align with your organization’s vision and mission.

When working through defining your organization’s mission, it’s important to make clear statements and be as specific as possible. 


Example Mission: 

During the mission exercise, your team members will brainstorm the following three questions:

  1. Who are we? 
      • Why does our organization exist?
      • What is our purpose? 
  2. What do we do?
      • What are the benefits of our products/services?
      • What problems do we solve? 
  3. Who do we do it for? 
      • Who is our customer?
      • Who benefits from our products/services? 


Next Steps:

If you have an upcoming strategy session, learn more about why vision and mission exercises are a critical part of the strategic planning process.


If you’re interested in leading the vision and mission exercises yourself, our 'How to Create a Strategic Plan' course will guide you through each step of the process:


Or, book a free consultation to find out more about working with a facilitator to guide your team through developing your vision, mission, and entire strategic plan: