What is the difference between a mission and a vision statement?
What’s the difference between a mission statement and a vision statement? We get that question all the time.
The difference between mission and vision is present tense vs. long-range big picture. The differences between the two are also about tangibles versus ideas or values. Your mission is what you offer right now, how you make the good or service available, where you operate, and a description of how you are different from the rest. Vision statements contain words that describe what you hope will not change about why you do what you do overtime.
Here’s a simple, made-up example for a coffee shop to show the difference between mission and vision.
Crystal’s Coffee Shop serves fresh, locally roasted coffees and more with a smile to everyone in Anywhere, USA. We aim to be the place everyone in the community feels at home enjoying great coffee.
What is a Mission statement?
A mission statement defines in one or two sentences the present condition of any business or organization. A mission statement should answer at least three key questions:
- what we do
- who we do it for
- how we do it different or better
When crafting a mission statement, think about why the company exists. Use words that will help someone quickly understand what you offer and the purpose for the service or good produced.
Any entity that attempts to operate without a mission statement runs the risk of wandering through the world without having the ability to verify that the organization is on its intended course.
What is a Vision Statement?
A vision statement is a sentence or two that elaborates on the mission statement by expressing values, visions, or goals as they relate both internally and externally to the mission.
Think values and desired future state. What do you hope the organization will achieve? What is the “north star” for this endeavor that will not change even if leadership changes?
Your vision statement must be concise as well as inspirational to employees and customers/clients.
The terminology used often changes within vision versus mission. We see words like responsible, believe, achieve, treat, etc., in vision statements. Descriptive words help employees and customers understand what to expect.
For example, International Paper’s vision statement addresses a belief in “diversity of thought,” a value statement. They also mention that “everyone…is responsible for meeting customer and business promises.” Those words form a directive or action statement for employees. We often see a commingling of vision and mission statements because if you hold specific values (such as high ethical standards), these values compel you to take particular actions, e.g., fulfill promises made to customers.
When thinking about the difference between mission statements and vision statements, these succinct definitions might help.
Mission statement: core activities and tangible objectives today
Vision statement: reason for being now and in the future
Values statement: what will guide the organization’s actions
Statement of purpose: why the organization does what it does
There’s not much difference between mission and vision for some but crafting them as stand-alone statements will clarify your thinking process and lead to more predictable outcomes.
Missionstatements.com exists to help you write a good mission or vision statement for your business or organization.
Many examples of a good mission statement for businesses exist in our library. See the links below to find sample mission statements in a category similar to yours. Writing a mission statement for an organization can be tough because it requires a thoughtful analysis of what you do and why.
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See Hundreds of Mission Statements in Our Library
Our mission: to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.
Our Values: Our company’s foundation is built on our values, which distinguish us and guide our actions. We conduct our business in a socially responsible and ethical manner. We respect the law, support universal human rights, protect the environment, and benefit the communities where we work.
-Protecting People and the Environment
DIVERSITY MISSION STATEMENT
To sharpen our competitive advantage by drawing on the strengths of a diverse work force in order to enhance innovation, growth and customer satisfaction.
Panasonic recognizes that diversity is a business necessity and also an opportunity to achieve greater business success. Accordingly, we are committed to the development of a work force that re&ects the diversity of its customers, business partners and communities.
Panasonic Corp. of North America