The Difference Between Vision And Mission

By: William Drake

Updated July 30, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Aaron Dutil

Most companies have both vision and mission statements. Just like people, companies need a direction. A lack of direction has shuttered many businesses. In addition to direction, just like people, businesses need to set and obtain goals while knowing how to go about achieving them. At the same time, a company's employees need a sense of cohesiveness in order to work together in harmony. These ideas are encapsulated by the mission and vision statements, and this article helps to explain the difference which is crucial for any business to understand.

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Mission Statement

The mission statement of a company is a declaration of what they do every day. It defines the day-to-day activities of their work and every person who works for the organization contributes to that mission. Think of it like the person who sets daily or weekly goals for themselves to accomplish. It describes to employees and customers what is being done right now. It is present-focused and can change very quickly depending on the circumstances of the business's market.

For a company's employees, it gives workers a sense of purpose about the value of their work. It is a broad statement that describes the cohesiveness of an organization, even if they do multiple and varied types of work in their individual departments. Many times mission statements often start with statements such as, "We provide…" or "We offer…" or "We are a…" The mission statements establish a framework for the behavior of those working in the company. Performance standards can be based on a company's mission statement and they can guide decision making for employees at various levels of the company.

Vision Statement

A vision statement is a clear, definitive statement of what you want to accomplish, and what the world will look like once you've accomplished your mission. Think of it as the perfect scenario that you're working toward accomplishing. Also, knowing what is important in the community you are working in is oftentimes extremely important in crafting a vision statement. Unlike the mission statement, a vision statement is future-oriented. It provides a sense of what the company values to those both inside the company and out. At times, some companies will use their vision statement for public relations purposes.

Since a vision statement is used to direct overall strategic goals for a company, they tend not to change very often. Each goal is another step on the path toward achieving the overall vision of the company. Vision statements are written in the present tense but still serve the future of the enterprise. When a vision statement can be read in the present tense and be accurate, an organization will know that their vision is being achieved. For example, a vision statement for a nonprofit who works to eliminate homelessness may read, "All children will live in safe, affordable housing." Therefore, making sure children are in safe, appropriate housing is the overall strategic goal of that non-profit.


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A lack of vision is like driving down a road without a map. You may be moving forward but you have no idea of your actual destination. A good vision statement will create that much-needed direction and will express that direction's importance.

The Difference Between Vision And Mission

The primary difference between a vision and mission statement is the timeline, although there can be an overlap between the two. In general, a mission statement defines what an organization is currently doing, while a vision statement is basically the ultimate goal of what they'd like to accomplish. The mission is what people do in order to achieve the vision. It is the how (mission) versus the why (vision).

The mission statement can also be used as a cohesive management tool. It is mutable and changes when circumstances or the needs of the company change. Employees' duties, actions, and behaviors should all fall under the mission of the organization. Because the vision statement is a goal that may or may not be elusive, it's not an effective way to direct individual employee behavior and expectations regarding day to day activities. However, it does give an employee an idea of what the organization hopes to accomplish as a team. The vision is always forward-thinking and because of this, it cannot be used for the daily operations of a company.

At times, different language is used by companies to describe vision and mission statements based on the type of organization. For instance, in the non-profit sector, organizations will often use the term action plans instead of "mission statement." The term core values is sometimes used instead of "vision statement" as well. No matter what term is used, it is meant to describe overall goals (mission) and broad strategy (vision).

What Exactly Is Vision And Mission, And How Do They Affect Business?
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Personal Vision and Mission Statements

While most often used by organizations, sometimes families or individuals develop their own mission and vision statements to direct their actions and activities. For instance, it helps to ask questions such as: What are my dreams? and What inspires me? The language might be different, for instance, people may express their vision statement with the use of a personal credo in lieu of a vision statement. Either way, the purpose is the same.

If you think you could benefit from a personal mission or vision statement, or if you are struggling with writing one for your company, or need support managing your team members effectively under your mission, a counselor with experience in behavioral counseling and habit effectiveness can help. Knowing who you are and where you are headed is important information to understand.

Mission and vision statements are crucial for an individual or business. A counselor who is experienced in this area can provide insight and support to help you create the mission and vision - and ultimately the team - that you're hoping for in order to succeed in life. BetterHelp offers this service online so you can get the support you need without leaving the office or home. Below you can read two reviews of counselors at BetterHelp who have helped others deal with issues related to personal drive, vision, and mission.

Counselor Reviews

"In the short span of 9 months, Shonnie has become like one of my best friends. At first, I was skeptical of doing therapy since I'm very "psychologically healthy". A few challenges in my personal life lead me to try therapy for a month. Now I consider it an important part of my growth as a businessman and leader within my community. Thank you Shonnie for being so helpful during the recent difficulties; I am very lucky to have found you!"

"Tyson did a really good job and I can finally say that I don't need therapy right now, since I am in much better shape. He was my counselor for about 5 or 6 months for depression, best therapist I've had. He helped me accomplish many of my career and personal goals, and I am much happier than I was now. When you align with your values with career, family, or anything else in your life, your life becomes much better. He also left me with a few techniques I can work on so I can continue to work on observing and overcoming my negative thoughts and behaviors. I would highly recommend. Thank you Tyson!"

Conclusion

Mission and vision statements, while primarily geared toward businesses, can help guide us in our professional and private lives. It may be difficult for an individual or company to develop them, but they don't have to be developed alone. BetterHelp can help with the advice of a behavioral expert at an efficient cost. Your visions and missions are waiting to be engaged. Take the first step today.

FAQs

What is difference between vision & mission?

Some assume mission and vision statements are the same. However, there is a difference between mission statements and vision because each statement describes different aspects of a company's identity and future. A mission statement focuses on a company or organization's purpose. A mission statement focuses on an objective relating to the business of the company or organization with strategies to achieve it. A vision statement details the direction the company or organization is going to fulfill its mission. The difference between mission statements and vision is that vision acts as a road map part of a strategic plan helping the company to stay focused on meeting its mission.

In a mission, the statement focuses on a shorter timespan for accomplishing short-term goals. An aspect of the statement focuses on today or the present. In a mission, the statement focuses on what employees need to know now, and the statement focuses on today regarding actions they should be doing toward company purpose. The statement focuses on the internal and external growth of the company. The statement focuses on establishing good communication among employees, customers, and company partners. The mission statement focuses on people the company serves. The mission statement focuses on how to serve others with motivation.

A thoughtfully created mission that focuses on today contributes to the growing aspect of the world's information.  A mission that focuses on today understands how to meet the needs of employees and those they serve. The focuses on today include understanding trends, what people like, and meeting the unique needs of a changing world. A mission that focuses on today understands culture and diversity.

The world's information is continually changing with focuses on tomorrow or what is to come. A vision that focuses on tomorrow understands potential risks and why they matter. Focuses on tomorrow include keeping business essential updated, such as skills and tech advancements. A vision that focuses on tomorrow will describe what the company will look like in 10 years. The world's transition relies on how companies project their futures.

In a vision, the statement focuses on long-term company aspirations. A vision statement focuses on tomorrow by creating a lasting visual image of where the company should be. The statement focuses on dreams and hopes for the company. The statement focuses on promoting growth for a better outcome. The statement focuses on achieving purpose-driven long-term success. The statement focuses on tomorrow by helping employees understand how their actions direct the company's direction.

Together, mission and vision statements give a general statement about the values, goals, and purpose of a company. Mission and vision statements tell why a company exists. As you relate to the mission, the statement focuses on today. As you look ahead through the vision, the statement focuses on tomorrow. Detailed mission and vision statements make it clear what the company does and how it does it. When a company defines a mission, the mission should answer who, what, how, and why these elements are essential to the organization's mission.

What are the 3 parts of a mission statement?

Mission and vision statements are created based on values behind the company's mission. A mission statement describes the purpose, values, and goals surrounding the foundation elements of a company or business. The foundation elements are starting points helping distinguish the difference between mission statements and vision statement focuses.

Three parts of a mission statement include an affirmation of the organization's mission, the commitment of values for decision making, and defined goals to accomplish company vision.  A strong mission is the greater good behind significant connections to the foundation elements of an organization. It is another element that makes a difference between mission statements and a vision.

The world's transition begins with a mission. Understanding company goals to achieve is crucial to see how the statement focuses on tomorrow. Values associated with the purpose relate to the statement focuses on today or the present. Maintaining motivation through positive reinforcements in everyday life helps companies stay on track with their mission.

What is a good vision statement?

Good vision statements are straight to the point while specifying where the company wants to be. It is short and straightforward while being the starting point of an action plan. It gives purpose to the company as an outline. Poorly written vision statements are the opposite. Mission and vision statements go hand in hand while one provides guidance and inspiration to the other. Vision statements lacking clear direction may make it difficult to understand the difference between a vision statement and a mission statement.

Vision statements make organizations unique and help with competitiveness. Prominent company brands in different industries such as automotive, retail, and multimedia have clear, defined vision statements that make them stand out. Consider some of your favorite brands and learn about their vision statements. Think about their products and services and how their vision statements play a role in defining the brand and its core market.

Vision statements help challenge company employees to be creative problem solvers while staying focused on achieving goals. It is the greater good that makes the difference between a vision statement and company mission. Vision statements answer questions about where a company sees itself years into the future. Vision statements create a mental image of what a company hopes to achieve moving forward. Incorporating the right actions and mindset into your everyday life makes a difference in the company's vision. A good vision statement focuses on helping employees understand their place in the company and what to contribute long term.

What comes first mission or vision?

Once a large or small business understands its purpose, it can develop its mission and vision. Understanding why the company is in business helps develop its vision or direction, visualizing its future. The mission helps vision statements materialize with an approach. Mission and vision statements sometimes take time to develop, with some companies making slight changes and tweaks to their mission vision values.

Vision values are related to vision statements. For businesses, a vision statement focuses on defined core values and standards for employees. A vision statement focuses on ethics to practice and the creation of business culture. These aspects are the greater good to upholding mission and vision statements during times of change.

What is the importance of mission and vision?

The mission and vision statements work together to keep a company or organization focused on meeting goals they want to achieve. Mission and vision statements play a significant role in strategic planning. Each component of mission and vision statements ensure all parties involved in the effort are productive while encouraging efficiency. They ensure people part of the initiative are aligned working toward the same purpose while detailing performance standards and expectations.

It's important for companies to have mission and vision statements to define their purpose while standing out against their competitors. A successful company contributes to society. When it comes to mission, the mission of the company becomes part of everyday life through practicing company values.  Vision and mission statements written poorly may present challenges and setbacks to a company or organization. In such situations, vision and mission statements lacking detailed insight may experience problems attracting the right talent, developing an appropriate work culture, and lack levels of productivity to achieve success. Understanding the best mission vision components to develop mission and vision statements is essential for any size company to achieve success and sustainability.


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