I believe that mission, vision, values and goals are critical to the success of an organization. The day-to-day procedures are important, but ought not to be without a compass of direction and end goals. Even if those end goals are lofty and years ahead of where you are now, your organization will be feel lost unless you’ve got some greater purpose to strive for and achieve. Let’s break down what this means.
Mission: The one or two sentences that tell people exactly what you do as an organization. Mission defines what you do such that someone could read this and know exactly what you’re about. The mission is relatively flexible and can be changed, if necessary, though this isn’t preferred.
Vision: This is where your organization strives to be relative to society. Vision also integrates long term outcomes and the lofty intentions of how they want to be remembered. The vision statement usually doesn’t change.
Values: These are the things you stand for and the ideals for which you want to be known. Values are usually limited to 4 or 5 singular things.
Goals: These are the short term objectives an organization pursues in alignment with its mission and vision. Goals are both stated as well as private, an important difference to note. In most cases, you publicize your mission, vision and values, though not necessarily your goals. Internally, all are equally important.
For those of us who work in college athletics, supporting student athletes and their educational pursuits is often one of the main published goals. A vision could be something along the lines of making the world a better place by teaching human beings through sport and higher education. The same organization could have a mission statement of providing a memorable experience for fans, student athletes and employees alike. Values could be family, teamwork, commitment, integrity and spirit. Goals would be the short term objectives aimed at serving these higher order statements – something like a fundraising campaign for a capital project or the implementation of a new CRM system would be examples.
Now, it may seem that these things are all related, and they are; the differences are subtle, but also important. It isn’t critical that they all exist within an organization, as many organizations don’t have any. It is also not critical that these things be pronounced or even discussed. However, the research shows that in most cases, the organizations that do have all these items, make them public and actually practice what they preach, boast better longevity, better business outcomes, better employee satisfaction and more satisfied customers. I’ll be talking about this more in the future and offering suggested reading, but for now, think about your own experience and consider the book Good to Great by Jim Collins. Until next time,