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Vision and Mission Statement

by Mira Vlach on December 09, 2007:

Summary: Concise vision and mission statement ensures that a leader will stick to the core business and helps to share this vision with others. The bigger the organisation, the more important it is to clearly define this piece of guiding information.

One of the most important tasks of organisation leaders is to set direction for their followers. This applies all the more if we speak of a founder of an organisation. When each and every person in the organisation knows the basic goals and values, then there is less need for detailed manuals and instructions for them on how to act in every possible situation.

The next reason for the mission statement is that you set the core business. This helps you to make consistent decisions and you stay on track towards the set goals.

Writing and disseminating this basic message in the organisation can help even naturally charismatic and communicative leaders. It should be also one the first pieces of information that every newcomer in organisation will get to know.

The content of mission statement

It does not matter how will you name this document, but it should be self-explaining, concise and clear. A good mission statement does not need to be changed with every change of a CEO of an organisation.

The statement should cover this:

Definition example

See this Starbucks mission statement as an excellent example of a well-written mission. I worked for Starbucks while I lived in London. This mission statement helped the company to become a number one international coffee company.

Establish Starbucks as the premier purveyor of the finest coffee in the world while maintaining our uncompromising principles while we grow.
The following six guiding principles will help us measure the appropriateness of our decisions:

How to put it in action

Speaking from my own experience with the Starbucks Coffee Company, I can confirm that a meaningful mission can really extraordinarily motivate some people. That is the immense advantage of those leaders who are able to give higher sense to other people, inspire them and let them be proud of the job they are doing.

However, this advantage is not for free! It is very important to realize, that by stating the vision and mission the process of motivation only begins. The leader, who sets such high expectations, will be watched carefully by everyone all the time. People will be very sensitive to any violation of the values by the leader. Therefore, the leader should act as a role-model on every occasion when he or she comes into contact with other people. Unfortunately, only individuals who are really dedicated to what they say are capable of this. This should be taken into account while writing the mission statement. The same applies for any managers within the organisation, who actually represent the leader.

The importance of manager's approach can be illustrated by my own experience with Starbucks, where I had the chance to get to know several stores in central London. In every one of them, the manager's personality had a huge impact on the performance of the team – and the differences were sometimes remarkable. I witnessed a district manager who came to visit a store during a peak-hour and did not hesitate to put on an apron on his expensive suit and collect empty mugs from the tables to help the team. Of course, the help was mostly symbolic. However, the company surely knows why even its higher managers should role-model in this way.

On the other hand, the worst degradations in service quality were caused by managers acting (at least seemingly) against the mission or values of the company – whatever the management level was. This often irreversibly turned enthusiastic baristas or supervisors into indifferent ones.

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