The words were NOT an accurate reflection of the company I worked for.
The decade spanning my 20’s involved working for a private university, electric power company, package delivery organization and a global manufacturing plant. These diverse businesses had very little in common – except one interesting characteristic. On the wall of a conference room hung the corporate “Vision Statement” and “Mission Statement”. In every case, the words sounded nice; in every case, the words were not an accurate reflection of the company I worked for.
During these years, I determined that vision and mission statements served one purpose – marketing. Anyone who wasn’t on the inside could read these words and walk away with a positive emotion toward the authoring organization. I really believed this to be the only value they provided. In fact, I often wondered why they didn’t put them on billboards instead of in conference rooms. My assumption was that they were trying to get employees to believe these words over their daily experiences of reality.
This perception of the value of vision and mission statements, or lack thereof, held true through most of my 30’s. Until…
An organization I volunteer with decided they needed to clarify their vision. This caught me off guard. I couldn’t believe a group of people I thought were devoted and highly intelligent would want to pursue such a time-waster. After a few minor objections, I chose to have an open mind and reluctantly observe the process.
As the team diligently worked toward crafting their vision and mission statements, I witnessed an unexpected approach. As opposed to trying to come up with what sounded best or what would attract the greatest audience, they worked toward accurately capturing the heart of the team and organization. This led me to ask some key questions about the true and worthwhile purpose of a vision statement and mission statement.
I am now a great proponent of vision and mission statements. When approached correctly, they become a guiding force for every move made. I’ll share my learnings in hopes that you don’t make the same petty mistakes many companies have made where these valuable tools are concerned. I believe vision and mission are most easily understood by answering 2 questions:
Where are we headed?
The answer to this question is your vision.
Vision – This is the destination, the point of reference you are always working toward, the ultimate picture of success. If all your plans and goals were fully accomplished, this is where you would be. Your vision is completely unchanging and should be written in ink.
What is the roadmap to get there?
This is your mission.
Mission – This is the direction you take. There may be many routes, but each and every step should move you closer to your destination. This is basically the overarching plan to get where you’re going. Proper planning upfront can save a lot of time and bring a lot of clarity, but always recognize that it is possible for plans to change; they should be written in pencil.
For reference, the vision and mission of FundingSage.com are:
“FundingSage.com is the authoritative source for entrepreneurs seeking funding.”
“Providing valuable information, tools and resources to entrepreneurs seeking to start, grow and fund a business.”
This sort of clarity is not only valuable to you in keeping your company on track; it brings a clean confidence to Angel and Venture Capital investors when you are seeking funding.