Defining your organization’s vision and mission helps you focus on work that is consistent with your purpose.
A vision and mission define your purpose and your destination. While the mission and vision are usually written for top-level organizations, these tools can be used at a departmental level and even at a personal level. They help you focus on work that is consistent with your purpose and that takes you closer to achieving your goals.
The mission is why your organization exists. It specifies the business you’re in, who you serve, and your impact on the world around you. It’s the road you’re on. I run a leadership training firm. My firm’s mission is to advance the art of business leadership through hands-on training and coaching led by dynamic business people. It’s clear what business we’re in: business leadership training. It’s clear who we work with: people in large and small organizations who are their leaders. And the impact on the world is helping people improve their skills in this arena.
The vision is a midterm objective of what you’ll achieve three to five years out. It’s a waypoint along the road you’re on. My firm’s vision, right now, is to be a global firm of uniquely skilled executives who teach managers around the world how to be great leaders. This lays out my expectations for the type of work we’re going to do and when I’ll consider us to be successful. This global element is something that’s new in the past few years, and it’s really getting us to focus on other countries.
The mission and vision are linked. They can be created for any organization. They’ll set direction and help determine the work you will or won’t do. For my firm, our vision and mission do exactly that. We routinely say no to consulting work. It’s not part of our mission and it doesn’t help us achieve our vision. When you lay out your mission and vision for your organization, it’s going to set that direction that will enable you to know which types of work matter and which types of work are off your path.
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