The mission, vision, and value statements of organizations are more than just public declarations of their identities, intentions, and positioning. When developed and utilized in their proper context, these statements form part of the long-term strategy of a particular organization and guide leaders in making an array of decisions ranging from short-term goals, marketing objectives, corporate social responsibilities, and hiring decisions.
Of course, some of these statements are confusing. A specific mission statement reads as if it is a vision statement, while a value statement seems more of a mission statement. There are instances when these statements are unidentifiable. These confusions are common and, at times, inevitable because of poor understanding of the difference between mission, vision, and value statements.
Mission vs. Vision vs. Value: What is the Difference Between Mission, Vision, and Value Statements?
The following are a concise guide to the distinctive definition and thus, key differences between these three types of organizational statements:
Mission Statement: A short one to two paragraphs that precisely explains why an organization exists. It describes the desires and intent of leaders for the organization, as well as the general and overarching organizational purpose. A mission statement answers the questions: Why do we exist? Who do we serve? What do we provide?
Vision Statement: A short declaration of the long-term goal of the organization. This statement is forward-looking. Furthermore, it communicates the shared hopes, dreams, and image of the future. A vision statement answers the question, “What do we want to become in the future?”
Value Statement: A statement, series of words and phrases, or paragraphs that represent the core beliefs of an organization. The stated values specifically represent how the organization operates, and how the leaders and employees act and behave. A value statement answers the question, “What do we stand for?”
Takeaway: A Further Note on the Difference Between the Mission, Vision, and Value
Several successful organizations do not have definite statements. This is true for small enterprises and sole proprietorships. However, they remain important. To be specific, the importance of the mission, vision, and value statements centers on the fact that they guide aspects of operating and expanding an organization.
Another obvious importance of these statements is that they unite members and stakeholders of an organization by creating an established identity. The mission statement is usually a declaration aimed at external stakeholders, although it is also used when developing and implementing specific strategic plans and tactics.
On the other hand, the vision statement directs leaders and members, as well as all operational activities to a central aim or shared goals and objectives. It allows the entire organization to actualize its mission.
The value statement is both for the internal and external stakeholders. When used internally, it creates an ethical framework for guiding decisions and behaviors, while also establishing an organizational culture. Externally, the pronounced values allow external stakeholders to examine the commitment of an organization toward social responsibility.
Of course, it is also important to note that these statements can be unified into a single statement. However, in doing so, it is important to effectively express the mission, vision, and values of an organization without being too wordy and lengthy.