10 Minute Review: Mission, Vision, Strategy

Phil Smith
Managing Director | Business West
13th June 2014

Take ten to ensure your business mission, vision and strategy connect and work together.

Mission statements and leadership visions are often forgotten because over time they disconnect from reality. This might happen because: leaders conjure up the mission and vision without sufficient thought to if and how the business can achieve the set goals; the business may evolve away from the mission and vision due to success in other areas; the business may simply wander off course due to lack of focus.

So, periodically take time to keep your mission, vision and strategy connected and focused...

Mission - the business purpose, driven by core values

Whether or not you have an existing mission statement, try this tip: Kevin Starr, from investment firm Mulago Foundation, suggests a simple formula for creating a mission statement: follow the format "Verb, target, outcome”. Starr cites examples such as “Save endangered species from extinction” and “Improve African children's health”. Ask: Why do we exist? Then distil the answer into a few choice words.

Vision - the roadmap for where the business and its people are heading

Express your broad aspirations for the business, and define specific time-based goals against which progress can be measured. For instance, extending upon Starr’s example above, you may build on a mission to ‘save endangered species’ by setting out which species you intend to save and by when. Choose a timeframe (one, three, five, ten years) and ask: What are our broad aspirations and specific goals for this period? In what areas shall we focus our efforts? In essence, where do we want to go?

Strategy - the main objectives and steps needed to realise the vision

Drilling down further, detail specific objectives and steps required to realise the vision. And crucially, be sure to consider what capabilities, skills and capacities the business will need, and what management systems and control will be necessary. Ask: What objectives and steps are required to realise the vision? What capabilities do we have now, and what capabilities do we need to develop?

Look for disconnects

In an ideal world - that’s all it takes. But in reality, hidden issues are likely to exist which could cause your mission, vision and strategy to disconnect. For instance: your appraisal of required competencies may expose an unachievable vision; or the required stepping stones may highlight that some steps will take longer than planned. That’s the point of this review - to expose potential ‘disconnects’, as described at the beginning of this article.

Being aware of potential disconnects allows you to: make your mission and vision more realistic, and/or focus on problem areas so that disconnects don’t happen. If your business’s core competencies don’t match up to what’s required to realise the vision - there’s your focus for development. Or, should your business exhibit clear core competencies in other areas, perhaps you should rethink your key goals?

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