Vision & Mission

Vision & Mission: Unknown or confused

Are we really sure it’s clear what they mean? As the strategic approach shows they are essential milestones in Leadership. As consultants we often see how they are misused by many companies, sometimes they are unclear or mistaken. Many people talk about Vision and Mission, do they know what they really are?

Just some weeks ago I was called into a client’s office for a consultation. Here they advised me about a consultancy they had had about their Vision and Mission statements. They then showed them. Here starting the matter, or the nightmare begins…

Their Vision:
We want satisfy our clients’ needs through our quality of products and services through innovation, improve their loyalty and enhance our Brand awareness as industry leaders.
Their Mission:
We want to become an industry leader through innovation and the quality of the product and be able to perform better than our competitors in understanding clients’ needs and satisfying them.
Suddenly I asked: “May I know the consultant name…..?” . “Sure, she is ……, do you know her?
“Yes I do, she was an NLP trainer on my masterclass. She is a psychologist, she helps people as a life coach….”

That’s the issue, when the market is shrinking everybody offers a wider range of products even the ones they have not mastered. Who is aware of this? Does the client have the knowledge to evaluate it? Indeed all of us are looking for provider who possess a better knowledge than we do.

What the VISION is

The Vision purpose is to spot how the environment will become in the future. This is the difference in vision thinking ability. When Henry Ford said “Horses won’t be on the road anymore” he was referring to an emerging future which people around him weren’t able to see. When Bill Gates stated “A personal computer on every desktop” he was referring to a big shift in labour which no one had understood before him. Bill Gates added “ …all of them will run a Microsoft OS !
it was a his dream. Now reality has overpass imagination: that there are many more computers than desktops.

Looking around us we can find some brand’s statement which so often miss this logical meaning. If we see an great Italian branded University, the SDA Bocconi, for example, we will find a kind of Mission & Vision melted together into one single statement
which does not meet logical requirements on building a Vision: “ C o n t r i b u t e t o p e o p l e a n d o r g a n i s a t i o n s development creating and spreading out innovative knowledges on the management field.”

Often the Vision has a reduced value if compared to the entrepreneur’s idea: the Mission.

Telecom Italia think it is showing a Vision but in reality s their Mission: “ Be an evolved Service Provider able to provide communication services connected to an information and
digital contents management capacity in a compatible way with the environment and the community”.

Sometimes people make mistakes in what Vision is when they say: … It is the entrepreneur’s idea and it shows what the company want to become in the future

La vision è l’idea dell’imprenditore e rappresenta ciò che l’azienda intende diventare. Microsoft: “Un personal computer su ogni scrivania, e ogni computer con un software Microsoft installato“.

Questi esempi sono proiezioni di uno scenario futuro che rispecchia i valori e lo spirito

Questi due aspetti in realtà non sono distanti ma complementari. Per poter realizzare la vision è necessario procedere per progetti, che di volta in volta si strutturano attraverso una mission mediante obiettivi.”

Then: These two issues are not distinguished, but close and complementary. To be able to realise the vision it needs to proceed by projects, each one of them have to be structured through a Mission by targets

Please, don’t ask me what does it mean….

7-Eleven has a good mission here, but theymiss the Vision statement purpose.

My opinion is that they did n o t w r i t e t h e V i s i o n statement as well as they could, at least not completely under the advice of J.C. Collins and J.I. Porras model. These have developed a well structured model about Vision statement in their Building Your Company’s Vision on HBR -10 Must Read-. Their model shows how the Vision has to include the ideas (Core Ideology) and the future imagination (Envisioned Future). In this way the Vision doesn’t have to declare any entrepreneurism target. But it can describe
purposes and values.

The Vision is first a sky view, an idea about the future. Nokia developed several Visions, once the old one had been reached they developed a new one.

  1. 1995 “Our vision: Voice goes mobile”
  2. 2005″Our vision: Life goes mobile”

The Vision function lies on showing the idea we have about the future, one in which we strongly believe. It is a future which we want to arrive, because to have a role in that future we have to be able to foresee it better!

Like Enrico Mattei, one of the greatest Italian entrepreneurs on the history, said:

“Il futuro è di chi lo sa immaginare”

The future belongs to whom knows how to imagine it.

What the Mission is

On the Vision statement Brands say what they want to do to create value for customers and how to shape the future in which they believe. Shape identity by actions. The examples will show it…

”To be the world’s most respected and successful designer, manufacturer and retailer of the finest jewellery.”

Furthermore Philip Kotler. He does not need to be clarified:

Furthermore Philip Kotler

And Steve Jobs declared:
Apple is committed to bring the best personal computing products and support to students, educators, designers, scientists, engineers, business persons and consumers in over 140 countries around the world.

A Mission’s function lies on the need to clarify the brand identity by pursuing and acting on it.
Mission has to be concise: not many words needed. People have to understand the passion on doing the things better and better. Passion will carries something exceptional. A Mission has to be motivational for people, showing them values and purposes which guide them to make strategic choices. Stakeholders understand the Mission message and it reminds them of the company identity and its social purpose.

A company that knows its mission knows what they do and why they do what they are doing.
Brand Identity becomes real and shows everyone the road map to success.
Not all companies declare their Vision, it’s not mandatory. The advice is: if you do it, do it better!
Otherwise, it is better not to do it at all. You will save time and will not risk making a mistake that can create misunderstandings with stakeholders and management.

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