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Vision and Mission: What’s the Difference?

Every company needs a vision of its future and a statement of its mission. Employees should know both, resonate with both and be able to express both to others. But what is the difference between them? Simply stated, a Vision is a view of what the company will become. The Mission is what the company does.

Nick Hobar, CEO of Workforce 2000, a Maryland-based educational consulting and software firm, commented on what he tells his clients are the elements of a Vision Statement.

Leadership- Leaders commit the organization to a vision and communicate and support efforts to achieve it.

Timeline- The vision has a clear finish line.

Process- People make needed changes and continuously improve them.

Outcome- The desired result is so clear that stakeholders or customers can tell when they’ve done it.

Criteria- A standard is defined and its achievement points to the creation of a new vision.

Nick notes that one of the best examples in American history of a clear Vision Statement is what President Kennedy said in 1961 about the Apollo Moon Landing program:

Leadership- “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal

Timeline-before this decade is out,

Process- of landing a man on the moon

Outcome & Criteria- and returning him safely to the earth”

Mission Statements should not only say what the company does but also why they do it. Everyone needs to know the why. And generally, everyone wants to know it. So make sure everyone knows the Vision and buys into it. Make sure everyone knows the Mission, including customers and prospects and deliver on it, measure it and talk about it. Dust off your Vision and Mission statements regularly and make sure that all new employees know and understand them both as soon after being hired as possible.