Saturday, March 13, 2010

Mission and Vision

I wrote the below a while back as part of building a framework of common purpose in my group at work. At my new job I've found the same thing useful to contextualize the business and the decisions we're making. It helps to have a logically consistent line of thought all the way from the big picture to the quotidian.

A Mission is what an organization is all about; what we do every day, and what we excel at. Think of it as answering the questions "what do we do, for whom, and why?". It defines our role at the highest level and describes the areas which are pre-ordained for us.

A Vision, on the other hand, describes what the future will look like when we achieve our Mission. It's what will happen because we execute so superbly on our Mission. "A PC on every desk", Microsoft's early vision statement, is archetypal.

Traditionally, one's Mission would be derived from one's Vision. Once you've decided what you want the future to look like (the Vision), you pick the Mission which will get you there.

Putting this all in perspective,
  • Vision dictates Mission
  • ...which determines Strategy
  • ...which surfaces Goals
  • ...that frame Objectives
  • ...which in turn drive the Tactics
  • deliver Key Results

Here's a picture from my commute the other day:

Howard Street


David Kirkbride said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Kirkbride said...

Excellent picture -- you were commuting by jet-pack again?

Isaac said...

Hoverboard :-)

Matt said...

I'm thinking a lot about this at the moment. Here's what I'm struggling with:

Lot of strategic planning methodologies regard goals and objectives as synonymous. I'm not convinced they are but, I think the difference between them is that objectives are in support of, and define, a strategy, whereas goals are the top level things you want to achieve with your mission.

So, I have it as:
A Mission
Is in pursuit of particular goals
Which are achieved by a strategy
Which has the following Objectives
To deliver Key Results

I'm missing tactics and vision, but think these are clear enough at the top and bottom of the stack.

Basically, strategy and goals are switched in this version, because strategy frames the objectives, but not the goals. This means your goals can stay the same, but your strategy can change. In your model, only the mission is independent of the strategy, which doesn't seem right. Surely you'd want to be able to change your strategy, in pursuit of the same goals? Or would you say that that's really a change in tactics, in pursuit of a constant mission?

Would love your thoughts.