How To Write Mission And Vision Statements

Learn how to write mission and vision statements. Mission and vision statements are essential for an organization's successful future but they do not come about without deliberate effort and commitment.

Mission and vision statements often do little more for an organization than register a loss commensurate with the costs of implementing them. Books are purchased, high-paid speakers and consultants hired, and expensive seminars held; all designed to convince the workers that this is the ultimate answer. Subsequently, when expectations are not met, the statements are touted as being a waste of time and money and the organization continues operating as it had previously.

That unfortunate scenario plays itself out all too often. The logic is akin to blaming the unused tool that lays rusting on the workbench for not contributing to building a house. Mission and vision statements are not solutions; they are tools and therefore of little use until placed in the hands of willing and capable craftsmen.

It does not take much in-depth analysis to understand why these tools fail to live up to expectations so often; just read the typical employee comments following a failed experiment:

- The organization did not walk the talk

- The goals were unrealistic

- Insufficient resources were allocated to support the plan

- After the introduction it was back to business as usual

- This program is just the latest "Flavor of the Month"; something else will come along soon

The common thread winding its way through all these comments is lack of upper management commitment. Where mission and vision statements have succeeded royally there has always been a top to bottom unequivocal support for the program.

The hesitation by an organization's leadership is understandable. By their very nature, mission and vision statements will bring about change and change is always accompanied by additional costs and risks. Rather than fear it, management must embrace that concept. Some management tools fail to affect any change; but here is one that will almost certainly do so if properly implemented. Therefore the focus should be on ensuring that this tool is properly aligned and used so that the benefits overshadow the costs, instead of fearfully leaving it to rust in the dust.

Without total honesty and clarity, the process is doomed from the start. Everyone must feel comfortable with the objectives and must be willing to make the necessary commitments to achieve them. Ultimately, results come from investments of time and money, not from feel-good discussion groups. It is preferable for a vision to be pared back and achievable than to be so unrealistic that it has lost all credibility before even being posted on the wall.

Total commitment is also essential. An organization's progress is the aggregate result of countless decisions made every moment. What mission and vision statements do is provide a ready reference for everyone to use as a benchmark when making decisions. These decisions may be as mundane as how the receptionist answers the phone to whether the board approves opening a new branch office in another state. With clear, realistic objectives guiding them, everyone finds that often the decisions are already made for them.

Properly designed and implemented, mission and vision statements enable an organization to maximize its potential by focusing all its elements on the same goals while actually reducing decision making mistakes and stress.

© High Speed Ventures 2011