Being Able to Recite Your Mission and Vision Statements Is More Important Than You Think

By Jonathan Morgan

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Being Able to Recite Your Mission and Vision Statements Is More Important Than You Think

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to meet with another successful client of AchieveIt. During our day of discussions, one topic came up that made most of the individuals in the room feel slightly embarrassed. No one could recite their organization’s mission and vision. While the room filled with discussions to figure out how this could have happened, I was not surprised at all.

Time and time again, we meet with organizations who cannot recite their mission or vision. And it’s not that they don’t have one. Most times, these organizations have spent hours, if not days, finding the perfect words to craft the mission and vision that encapsulate the company.

You’re probably quizzing yourself right now. Do you know your company’s mission and vision statements by heart? Doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, right, as long as the work is getting done?

The truth is, far too often organizations stop after the creation stage. They create a mission, they create a vision – and then they move on. They fail to tie these important statements to the strategies driving their success and the purpose of their employees. And therein lies the problem.

I recently saw a presentation at a conference displaying a similar situation as our client. In this study, the firm evaluated how many people could identify their organization’s key strategy. The results showed that 7 out of 10 people could not identify their key strategy. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The study actually asked the individual to choose from a pre-selected list of strategies. Not only could 70% of participants not name their strategy, but they couldn’t select it from a list.

If individuals don’t know their organization’s mission, their vision or their strategies, it’s no wonder that 70-90% of strategies fail. While AchieveIt helps clients improve their process around execution, the connection between a strategy and the organizational culture cannot be overlooked. In addition to these 3 ways to enhance organizational culture, ask yourself and your organization the following four questions:

1. Can everyone in your organization easily recite your mission and vision statements?

If the answer is no, why not? Is it posted anywhere or reviewed often? Tech companies like Google and Facebook have no problem recruiting high-caliber talent because individuals truly believe in their mission and vision. This should be the norm within all companies to excite employees around their organization’s cause.

If you answered yes, do the activities and strategies of your employees align with the mission and vision? Far too often I’ve seen little connection between these items, which results in individuals working on the wrong initiatives, or feeling like their work is unimportant.

2. When was the last time your mission and vision statements were revised?

In my experience, I venture to guess it’s been too long. The objective here is not to spend hours revamping a few words in your mission and vision. It’s to ensure they still apply. In a simplistic manner, your mission is what you are and your vision is where you want to be, or a roadmap to the future. It’s critically important to make sure your vision adapts and changes based on your future goals. Who knows? You may have already reached your vision, and it’s time to expand your horizon.

3. Do you revisit your mission and vision statements at the beginning of each strategic planning cycle?

If you don’t, consider making it standard procedure. There is no better time to review your mission and vision statements than at the beginning of a strategic planning cycle. In addition to keeping the mission and vision fresh, it will help ensure your strategies are tied directly to your mission and vision. I think you’ll find it will help steer your organization in the right direction of your desired future state with the right approach, instead of getting sidetracked by wayward details and tactics.

If you do revisit your statements each time, then great! Now work to make sure that the strategies and initiatives you develop align with the newly revised mission and vision.

4. Does everyone in your organization know their role in fulfilling the mission and achieving the vision?

This is the promised land. In most cases, the answer is no. If you are struggling with your strategy execution and cultural adoption, alignment is likely a large problem. As our good friend Todd Garretson at CircleMakers coined, “With organizational development, your strategy is the rudder but your culture is the motor.”

Your strategy can only succeed so much without the people responsible for driving it forward. Tie your people directly to the organizational goals so they understand what’s in it for them and how they can contribute to success.

Where should you start? If you haven’t already, have each department develop a purpose statement. This purpose statement will define that department’s role in achieving the organization’s mission, vision and strategies. From here, you can begin tying organizational goals to individuals a bit easier. We just built out new departmental purpose statements here at AchieveIt, directly linking employees to the organizational mission and vision, and we’ve already seen a difference in the degree to which people feel connected to our overarching goals.

It’s Worth Your Time to Fully Implement Your Mission and Vision Into Everything You Do

Speaking from experience, at AchieveIt, the answers to these four questions have become easy. Our mission? To equip business leaders to achieve their most important initiatives. Our vision? To empower a world of Achievers. My departmental purpose? Support AchieveIt by providing thought leadership to help optimize and enhance organizational development.