April 11, 2011

Mission, Vision and Values are commonly used together, but what do they mean?

Mission is why you exist

Vision is what your striving to do

Values are how you do your work

In this blog we will focus on Mission. A mission statement, describes the PURPOSE of an organization!

A mission driven organization is focused. It is steered and driven by its mission statement, it is from here that the goals and objectives are determined, established and guided. The organizational values flesh out in detail what the mission means in more detail and create the issues upon which decisions are made. The mission is the starting point for the creation of the strategy, i.e. how to we ACHIEVE the mission, what are the metrics/scorecard to monitor the performance of the organization?

By using a mission statement an organization can ensure that all its goals, efforts and resources are coordinated and aligned to leverage the best impact.

The following are of mission statements from some very successful organizations

3M "To solve unsolved problems innovatively"

Mary Kay Cosmetics "To give unlimited opportunity to women."

Merck "To preserve and improve human life."

Walt Disney "To make people happy."

Also remember you Mission can change!

Bill Gates regarding Microsoft’s mission statement


So the vision of Microsoft is pretty simple. It changed a couple years ago. For the first 25 years of the company, it was a personal computer on every desk and in every home. And it was a very good vision; very rare for a company to be able to stick with something like that for 25 years. The reason we changed it was simply that it became acceptable. . . . And so as we stepped back and looked at what we were trying to do with the programming model, turning the Internet into the fabric for distributed computing, getting your information to replicate in a very invisible way so that it was available to you everywhere, thinking of this programming model spanning all the different devices, we changed to the mission statement we have now, which is empowering people through great software anytime, any place and on any device.

Boeing used its mission driven focus to use quality and the Baldrige criteria (NHQA based) to go from possible loss of 10,000 jobs in 1991 and losing contracts to winning Baldrige in 1998

One final thing to remember. That is that you want your team to remember their mission statement, so keep it to the point and short so that it is EASY to remember!


NEXT TIME  Grassroots Improvement Ideas and schedule of upcoming blogs

Denis Leonard has a degree in construction engineering an M.B.A. and a Ph.D. in quality management. Denis is a Fellow of the American Society for Quality, a Certified Quality Manager, Auditor, and Six Sigma Black Belt. He has been an Examiner for the Baldrige National Quality Award Board of Examiners a Judge on the International Team Excellence Competition and a Lead Judge on the National Housing Quality Award. A former Professor of Quality at the University of Wisconsin, he has experience as a quality manager in the home building industry as well as construction engineer, site manager, and in training, auditing, and consulting with expertise in strategic and operational quality improvement initiatives. His work has achieved national quality, environmental, and safety management awards for clients. 

Denis is co-author of The Executive Guide to Understanding and Implementing the Baldrige Criteria: Improve Revenue and Create Organizational Excellence.