Mission, Vision, Purpose, Values and Goals.

October 9, 2022

While company websites and strategy papers regularly refer to their mission, vision, values and purpose the concepts are frequently confused. Not surprising given the fact they not only overlap but heavily rely on each other.

So what is the difference between a company’s mission and purpose? And what does it mean to achieve your vision versus your mission? And what about Values and Goals? How do they come into the picture?

With a focus on strategy and culture this is something I’ve had to get clear on over the years. Not only what these terms mean, but why they are important in the first place.

A picture is worth a thousand words

I find it helpful to be able to conceptualise how things hang together, so one approach that I have found helpful is the following illustration (you can also read more here):

  • Mission is the path we choose to walk
  • Purpose is why we walk that path
  • Vision is where we believe we’ll get to by walking that path and,
  • Values act as our compass – keeping us on track.
  • Goals are progress pillars we pass along the way to achieving our vision.

The image depicts a road weaving towards a mountain range and the sun. A person stands at the start of the road and there are checkpoints along the road and a compass. The road represents Mission, the Sun Vision, the checkpoints goals, the person Purpose and the compass Values.

 



 As a way to bring this to life let’s use the example of an ideological group aiming to share their belief system.

The group’s Purpose is to spread their ideas throughout the world. They have a Vision of a society where everyone has converted to their belief system and a Mission to set up infrastructure, schools, and media that will support practice of their belief system. Their Values will be aligned to their belief system and their Goals could include things like publishing a textbook, raising a million dollars, holding an event and building a meeting place.

As this example illustrates, each aspect represents a unique part of bringing to life what’s important.

And it’s the same for any individual, team or organisation – all parts of the picture need to be in place to fully conceptualise and communicate what it is you are trying to achieve.

For your people, your customers and your strategy.

It is only then can you put into place the actions to bring your plans into reality.

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