Posted by: rayseghers | November 19, 2009

Where are we going and how do we get there?

Over the last few days I have been following a couple of different discussions on LinkedIn.com about mission and vision. 

The latest was a question asking:  what is the difference between the two?  There was general agreement that vision is the desired future state and mission is the day-to-day set of activities that allow the organization to reach that vision.

An earlier discussion focused on whether different groups within an organization ought to have different mission statements.  The discussions were good and, of course, there were some differences of opinion.  I couldn’t help but think about an issue that often surfaces in employee survey discussions:  Do employees understand how their jobs fit it with and contribute to the organization’s goals?

The bottom line seems to be: “Where am I going and how do I get there?”  Now ask the same question for your work group and then for the entire organization.  You get the picture.  It is the same question that needs to be addressed up and down the line.

In OD consulting, we often hear terms such as “silos” or “fiefdoms,” indicating a disjointed situation where everyone does not share a common mission and vision.  While there is always a certain amount of self-interest displayed in individual/group behaviors within organizations, too much can topple even the strongest organization.

So, I guess for me, the answer is yes, each group needs its own mission statement as long as it is linked to the one for the organization.

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Responses

  1. I’ve got to ask, even though both or highly important, can someone get away with only having one of the two, Mission or Vision?

    • Thanks for your question.

      Well, I guess one out of two is better than none. I assume that someone might have a short-term view of what they want to do now (a mission) but are not sure where they want to end up (a vision). If you have a vision but no mission, then some would say that you only have a dream.

      So, if you only have one it would make sense to stop and analyze the situation more fully.


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