Understanding the Differences

Statements of Vision, Mission, Values, Goals, and Objectives…among other commonly used terms!

  • You SEE a Vision (a verbal image of what we ultimately want to achieve)
  • You HAVE a Mission (your business purpose and market sector)
  • You BELIEVE in Values (your moral compass and expected behavior)
  • You PURSUE Goals (the results we choose to accomplish)
  • You ACHIEVE Objectives (measurable targets along the path to our goals)

Terminology is constantly confusing and inconsistent. This is my attempt to share commonly held definitions of some of the more popular terms in organizational structures.  

Shared Views Organizational purpose comes from a shared view of our vision, mission, and values. Satisfying customers requires that you understand their needs, know your own processes, and then set goals and objectives to drive and evaluate your actions.  

Business Charter A business Charter is an organizational statement of purpose. 

  • Why are you in business? (Vision)
  • What business are you in? (Mission)
  • What are your principles? (Values)

 To perform strategic planning, you must begin with a clear Charter. Each element of the Charter is important. You need to link these vision, mission, and values statements. A vision without a mission is just a pipedream. And tactics must be guided by honorable values. 

Vision Statement A vision statement is created as a compelling verbal image and forms a mental picture of the future. It should define what we seek to become as an organization yet describe something that is realistic. The vision should generate human energy and engagement. In other words, it should provide direction and focus for the organization. To develop a vision statement, ask yourself these questions: 

  • What is your dream or vision of the future?
  • What is the loftiest picture you can imagine?

 Then, convince others of the value of that vision. Express it in a way that aligns with their best interests. Encourage them to buy into your purpose for the organization. Keep the statement brief and memorable. Use it to focus your activities.  

Mission Statement Your mission is the business reason for your organization’s existence. It is an element of the charter. It doesn’t describe a specific outcome and contains no time limit or measurement. The mission statement provides the basis for setting your goals and is used to allocate resources. A typical mission statement format might be… To provide (product) to (customers) for (reason) in (marketplace). To define your mission, begin by describing why your organization exists. Identify your scope of products and services. Identify your customers and the audience for your offerings. Then, write a brief and succinct mission statement.  

Values Statement Values are the beliefs behind your vision and mission. A worthy vision is guided by worthy values. Values give dignity and direction to your mission. They are the moral compass and expected behaviors during your vision quest. A values statement may include elements like: 

  • Integrity in all our actions
  • Commitment to employees
  • Quality of our products
  • Protection of environment
  • Innovative business ideas
  • Continual learning

 What do you hold dear and inviolate? What core values guide your activities? Express these values for an improved work environment and to allow the organization to prosper.  

Strategy Development A strategy is a statement of your approach to achieving your goals. Your vision, mission, and values play an important role in developing your business strategy. They provide the framework for generating and screening strategic options. They provide an organizational identity and understanding of business directions. The business strategy can be viewed as how you will use your mission to achieve your vision. Strategies are critical to the success of an organization because this is where you begin outlining the plans and actions to accomplish your goals.  

Goals and Objectives Goals are conditions to be achieved in the future. They must be defined consistent with your vision, mission, and strategic directions. Goals guide your decisions and actions. However, they usually do not involve measurable results, and therefore, do not change as often as objectives. Objectives are focused on critical issues and milestones. They describe the activities and targets to achieve your goals. They identify the dates for completing the activities. They are measurable in terms of being achieved, or not. For example, a general goal might be to reduce waste. The specific objective might be to reduce waste from 5% to 3% by the end of 2017.  

Policies and Procedures Policies are the intentions and directions of an organization as formally expressed by its top management. These adopted policies are used to guide an organization to reach its goals. Procedures are the specified way to carry out an activity or a process. They are the methods used to express policies as specific actions for everyday operations and support. Together, policies and procedures ensure that the top management point of view is translated into steps that will result in the intended business outcomes. 

What are your thoughts and definitions?  How do we best find common ground and direction? Please email me at Bob@PennPriceManagementGroup.net