Sunday Clarity: Mission, Vision, and Strategy

September 14, 2008

Posted in Strategic Planning.

The business world has an astonishing talent for obfuscation, muddling, and general confusion. Language gets misused and buzzwords trump actual meaning. But that doesn’t mean words don’t have value – it simply means that we must be more careful in their choice and use.

From Lifehack:

So what’s the difference? As simply as I can say it, your mission is what you do best every day, and your vision is what the future looks like because you do that mission so exceedingly well. In fact, I like to compare them to another old debate: management versus leadership.

And that’s supposed to clear things up?!

Sorry, but that does little for me. In a planning meeting once I heard someone claim that “mission” and “vision” were basically just two words for the same dense two-page block of corporate mumbo-jumbo.

I laughed. It’s true. Organizations (corporate or otherwise) often launch into paragraph after paragraph of unreadable garbage. Mission statements and vision statements have lost their way.


It’s worth holding onto words and their meanings. Here’s my contribution to clarity, found after a good cup of coffee and an excellent bit of coffee cake on a Sunday morning.

Mission: What you’re here to do. We’re here to have fun.

Vision: Where you see yourself. We’re going to spend a month on vacation.

Strategy: How you’re going to do it. We’ll quit our jobs, cash out our retirement accounts, and drive to Disney World.

The order here is important. How can you have a strategy if you don’t know your mission?

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