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Statements - mission and vision

There is much confusion about these two statements, simply because there is a lack of clarity about what they concern. In practice, they may overlap or one may be a part of the other.

Many people mistake vision statement for mission statement, and sometimes one is simply used as a longer term version of the other. However, the vision statement should describe why it is important to achieve the organisation's mission, by defining its purpose or broader goal. A mission statement is more specific to what the enterprise can achieve. The vision statement may relate to broader social aims, such as the reduction of global warming, health improvements or human advancement.

The vision statement describes why it is important to achieve the firm's mission.

The mission statement

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"A business is not defined by its name, statutes or articles of incorporation. It is defined by the business mission. Only a clear definition of the missions and purpose of the organisation makes possible clear and realistic business objectives."

Peter Drucker

It has become popular for firms to publish 'mission statements'. They define an organisation's purpose and primary objectives, stating 'who we are and what we do'. By publishing the firm's mission statement it is believed that everybody will know what their business is and relate to its purpose. Employees should be motivated and fired up to achieve.

This only works, however, if everybody understands and relates to the mission. The mission statement acts as a whole philosophy for the firm to help give a clear statement of direction for the present and so needs to have immediate relevance. Of course, it helps if the mission corresponds to the outlook and purpose of the individuals who make up the organisation, and if they have contributed to the development of that mission. If the mission is perceived as a glib slogan, designed by the marketing team, it will have little value.

Mission statements are targeted at internal and external stakeholders. This means that the statements have to be suitable for a wide range of readers. Internally, they are meant to encourage and motivate everybody, thus they must give a target, to which the reader can relate. This is not easy, and an unsuitable statement could, arguably, do more harm than good.

The mission statement is not specific and does not usually have quantifiable targets, or measures, rather it is aimed at helping customers, employees and all other stakeholders to understand the direction and objectives of the firm. The mission statement should:

  • be a concise statement of where the business is now, but also show its future direction
  • provide a statement of perceived success - what the business wants to achieve in the long term, as well as now
  • allow the business to use the statement for the development of specific goals and objectives to achieve their aims.
  • provide inspiration to employees to achieve the aims or vision set out by the statement

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Mission Statements

Apple Computers:

Apple is committed to protecting the environment, health and safety of our employees, customers and the global communities where we operate. We recognise that by integrating sound environmental, health and safety management practices into all aspects of our business, we can offer technologically innovative products and services while conserving and enhancing resources for future generations. Apple strives for continuous improvement in our environmental, health and safety management systems and in the environmental quality of our products, processes and services.

Walt Disney:

The mission of The Walt Disney Company is to be one of the world's leading producers and providers of entertainment and information. Using our portfolio of brands to differentiate our content, services and consumer products, we seek to develop the most creative, innovative and profitable entertainment experiences and related products in the world.

The vision statement

While a mission statement is of immediate relevance to all stakeholders as it is about the present and the way in which a company wants to advance, a vision statement is a more general statement looking at where the business desires to be in the future and the values that it will take with it along the way. A vision statement is less quantifiable than a mission statement as it is a statement about what the organisation wants to become and what it wants to achieve.

The vision statement should make employees feel proud, motivated, and excited to part of something much larger than them. It should stretch the organisation's capabilities and give shape and direction to its future.


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Westin Hotels

Year after year, Westin and its people will be regarded as the best and most sought after hotel and resort management group in North America.

Chevron

At the heart of The Chevron Way is our vision ...to be the global energy company most admired for its people, partnership and performance.

Heinz

Our vision, quite simply, is to be "the world's premier food company, offering nutritious, superior tasting foods to people everywhere." Being the premier food company does not mean being the biggest but it does mean being the best in terms of consumer value, customer service, employee talent, and consistent and predictable growth. We are well on our way to realizing this vision but there is more we must do to fully achieve it.

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Web task

Go to the web sites of 5 major firms and find their mission statements. How do they differ? Can you find examples of corresponding vision statements?

Look at some of the mission statements of the companies profiled on Biz/ed. Try a search on the Biz/ed site using the search term 'mission statement'. You can have a go at this in the window below.

For more information on mission and vision statements, why not try the following links?

  • Mindtools.com - mission and vision statements
  • Wikipedia - strategic planning - mission and vision statements

Unfortunately the iconic Dilbert mission statement generator has now been discontinued, but there are a number of alternatives available such as the one from ISMS.

Alternatively, you can have a go at this in the window below and generate a few random mission statements!

Another way of generating pointless mission statements is to download a mission statement generator from the Apple apps store, if you have an iPhone or iPad. There are several free versions available.


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Mission and Vision Statements: Coca-Cola and Innocent

In 2010, Coca-Cola bought a controlling stake in the Innocent smoothie company. Many commentators criticised the owners of Innocent, accusing them of selling out on their ideals.

Innocent logo.gifInnocent is the UK and Europe's favourite smoothie company, selling natural healthy products in over 13 countries and employing over 220 people across Europe. Innocent's mission is to make it easy for people to do themselves some good and to make it taste good too. In addition to 100% pure fruit smoothies, their successful latest products - orange juice and veg pots - fit with their mission of getting natural healthy products to as many people as possible.

innocent.pngAs a business, Innocent wants to leave things better than they find them. This is reflected in everything they do, from sourcing their fruit from farms with higher social and environmental standards to developing the world's first 100% recycled plastic bottle to donating 10% of profits every year to charity.

"Being accountable to our customers is something that is in our blood. In the summer of 1998 when we had developed our first smoothie recipes but were still nervous about giving up our proper jobs, we bought 500 worth of fruit, turned it into smoothies and sold them from a stall at a little music festival in London. We put up a big sign saying 'Do you think we should give up our jobs to make these smoothies?' and put out a bin saying 'YES' and a bin saying 'NO' and asked people to put the empty bottle in the right bin. At the end of the weekend the 'YES' bin was full so we went in the next day and resigned."

coca-cola-world.pngCoca-Cola Company: Mission, Vision & Values

The following is an extract from the Coca-Colas website, which presents an outline of its 2020 vision for the business.

To continue to thrive as a business over the next ten years and beyond, Coca-Cola say it must look ahead, understand the trends and forces that will shape their business in the future and move swiftly to prepare for what's to come:

"We must get ready for tomorrow today. That's what our 2020 Vision is all about. It creates a long-term destination for our business and provides us with a "Roadmap" for winning together with our bottling partners."

Our Mission

Coke_2020vision2.jpgOur Roadmap starts with our mission, which is enduring. It declares our purpose as a company and serves as the standard against which we weigh our actions and decisions.

  1. To refresh the world...
  2. To inspire moments of optimism and happiness...

To create value and make a difference.

Our Vision

Our vision serves as the framework for our Roadmap and guides every aspect of our business by describing what we need to accomplish in order to continue achieving sustainable, quality growth.

  1. People: Be a great place to work where people are inspired to be the best they can be.
  2. Portfolio: Bring to the world a portfolio of quality beverage brands that anticipate and satisfy people's desires and needs.
  3. Partners: Nurture a winning network of customers and suppliers, together we create mutual, enduring value.
  4. Planet: Be a responsible citizen that makes a difference by helping build and support sustainable communities.
  5. Profit: Maximize long-term return to shareowners while being mindful of our overall responsibilities.

Productivity

Be a highly effective, lean and fast-moving organization.

Our Winning Culture

Our Winning Culture defines the attitudes and behaviours that will be required of us to make our 2020 Vision a reality.

Live Our Values

Our values serve as a compass for our actions and describe how we behave in the world.

  1. Leadership: The courage to shape a better future
  2. Collaboration: Leverage collective genius
  3. Integrity: Be real
  4. Accountability: If it is to be, it's up to me
  5. Passion: Committed in heart and mind
  6. Diversity: As inclusive as our brands

Quality

What we do, we do well


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Questions:

  1. Using Coca-Cola as an example, identify two differences between a mission statement and a vision statement.
  2. Explain why some critics argue that mission statements are no more than an exercise in public relations
  3. Analyse the role of vision and mission statements in the operations of Coca-Cola
  4. Discuss the reasons for Coca-Cola's purchase of a controlling stake in Innocent smoothies.

You may want to look at the following the following article to support your answer: