Vision and mission

Thought I’d write up a reply to a query from Shawn Callahan at Anecdote, about vision and mission.

Shawn wanted clarification on what vision is – particularly in relation to brand vision – and how it differs from mission.

What I’d suggest is that there are two entirely different meanings of ‘vision’, which I’d usually distinguish as follows:

  • ordinary ‘vision’ is any routine future view: our vision of the future system configuration, or the future product-line, or the hoped-for response to an advertising campaign; the intent is that we will create the conditions under which that desirable future will be achieved
  • big-picture ‘Vision’ (which I indicate by the capital-letter ‘V’) is the guiding star for our organisation’s interactions within itself and with others; it’s always larger than the organisation itself, and is never achieved as such; in essence, it’s the purpose that we share with others, that provides the connection with others, and provides an overall anchor for the quality-system

(That last point about quality-system is important: ISO-9000:2000 mandates a vision as the anchor, but fails to specify what that vision looks like. It needs to be an unchanging ‘Vision’, not a future-state ‘vision’.)

Simplest way to understand the distinction between these and mission is that mission is part of the means – not an end. Think of it as being like a trade-mission, not a military-mission: again, not something that is ‘achieved’, and finishes, but a capability which we set up (and measure via goals) and then maintain indefinitely (measured by KPIs and SLAs and the rest).

More at .

Hope this helps? 🙂

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