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Vision versus Mission

Published August 28, 2013

vision mission
After the second Leadership Book explosion that occurred in the early 90’s the trendy thing to do in every major company was to write a Vision statement. There is no question having a Vision statement is imperative for an organization to have as a compass to keep them on track with achieving their overall plans and objectives. The problem occurs when an organization has a vision but no Mission by which to support that Vision.
The confusion surrounding this issue is that many times there is not a clear understanding about what a Vision statement is versus a Mission statement. Both are important, but both are very different, and confusing the two will cause your organization to stall out and not achieve the goals you have so carefully crafted.
A simple way to keep these two important statements clear in your mind as a leader and throughout your organization is to remember a Vision is where you want to go, where you are going to end up as an organization. It is a lofty goal, one that is not easily accomplished and will stretch you and your team beyond anything you have strived to reach before. All that being said, Vision encompasses a much bigger perspective and may contain the fewest words between the two. It is about the legacy you want your organization to leave. Think of it as the purpose of your organization, what it was called to do.
Mission is different. It speaks of action. The heart of the Mission talks about “how are we going to do what we just said we are going to do”. Mission statements might change during the life of your organization. What your mission is as a 5-10 year old organization will look very different when you are a 20 year old organization, but your overall Vision will be the same.
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I live in Austin and there is a local company here named Mighty Fine Burgers. I was eating lunch there today with my wife (and it was awesome!). While I was eating I saw their Vision and Mission clearly posted in the dining room. They nailed it.
Mission: To guarantee that every guest is delighted because of me.
Vision: To become world famous by delighting one guest at a time.
It’s beautiful. Keep in mind this organization is only 6 years old founded in December of 2007. They are recognized as a local Austin business with deep roots, and they have an extremely loyal following. They were also awarded the prestigious Malcom Baldridge National Quality Award which is the nation’s highest presidential honor for performance excellence.
Is their meteoric rise due to establishing a clear Vision with a Mission to support it? I would argue that it absolutely is. Every employee in their restaurants is absolutely empowered to do their part in making sure that the mission is accomplished of every guest being delighted with their experience and does so.
I believe this is a great example of what happens when you get everyone in the organization on the same page. You can accomplish great things and you can do it quickly. It does not take long to make an impact when everyone is moving in the same direction with a common mission.
Does your organization have a clear Vision for where it wants to go? Do you have a Mission that everyone understands from the CEO to the newest employee? That’s the challenge. If you accomplish that you are well on your way to achieving your goals and creating a special culture that will sustain itself for years to come.