See how the two foundational elements of your strategy fit together.
Two of our previous articles focused on mission and vision statements individually. The mission is focused on the purpose of your organization and your competitive advantage. The vision is focused on how you want your organization to develop in the future. To recap further:
Mission statements define why your business exists and why it’s important, including the problems you aim to solve with your product or service. The mission explains an organization’s plan for the present based on what it wants to achieve. Some are long, some are short, some are measurable, others aren’t—mission statements vary by industry but all should be unique and realistic.
Vision statements declare where your organization wants to be in the future, framed in an aspirational, forward-thinking manner. Visions should be creative, ambitious, and have a logical connection to the mission. This isn’t a road map (that’s what your strategy is for), but rather the destination based on your mission. Vision statements help organizations make strategic decisions, aligning effort with goals.
How can you tell the difference? Mission statements are more externally focused, telling the world why the company exists. Vision statements can have both an external and internal focus, guiding employee efforts and strategic decision making, as well as broadcasting your company’s grandest ambitions. In some cases, organizations use their own, slightly different definitions of mission and vision, but these statements will always have the company’s vision of a better future and language around what differentiates it from competitors. This is a critical first step to defining your strategy.
Another way of talking about the concepts of mission and vision is the Objective, Advantage, and Scope framework.
These terms are less commonly used than “mission and vision statements,”but they can provide value as you try to articulate the uniqueness of your organization.
While they are distinctly different, both mission and vision should:
As far as timing, both mission and vision are the first steps in defining your strategy. You can develop them in tandem or lead with your mission statement. We recommend the latter. Why? It’s a common pitfall to create a vision statement that’s too lofty and fluffy. If you start with the mission, you’ll have a more realistic anchor point for your ideal future state.
Below, we’ve rounded up some mission vs. vision statement examples to provide inspiration. But if you’re ready to start crafting your own vision statement, take a look at our step-by-step process for guidance.
Hampton County, SC
• Vibrant Economy...
• Rural Quality of Life...
• And Sense of Community Pride...”
We condensed the vision statement, but you can see a clear tie with the three principles outlined in the mission. Notice the focus of the mission is to show what Hampton County’s government provides, whereas the vision shows what a thriving county aspires to. You can also see the language isn’t from a template—it’s tailored for a small rural county already proud of what it has accomplished, that wants to emphasize its continual focus on cooperation, efficiency, and service to its citizens.
City of Toronto, Canada
• Toronto is a caring city.
• Toronto is a clean, green and sustainable city.
• Toronto is a dynamic city.
• Toronto invests in quality of life.
Toronto’s vision statement includes four perspectives, all of which most people would consider core tenets of a “great city”—the descriptor used in the mission statement. At a time when urban areas are facing a multitude of challenges, Toronto seems to be using this clear delineation to guide its strategic priorities for the years ahead.
Toronto’s vision statements are inspirational yet achievable; they also clearly reflect a desire to be a place that is a source of pride for Torontonians.
Tri-County Health Department (TCHD)
TCHD is the largest local health department in Colorado and has clearly put time into differentiating its mission vs. vision statements. Words like “optimal” and “lifespan” make it clear that TCHD’s vision is broad and aspirational—the organization aims for the best over decades. The mission then reiterates “lifelong,” listing the focus of TCHD’s activities in conjunction with results it wants to achieve. You can see how the vision and mission align, and easily imagine how the mission statement could translate into goals in a strategic plan.
Houston, TX Department Of Health And Human Services
This is one of the more interesting mission versus vision statement examples because it originates from a city department and is more specific than the overarching vision and mission of the city itself. This is not uncommon as it allows larger cities to narrow the focus of mission and visions within specific arenas.
In the case of Houston, the vision is very brief, but the mention of self-sufficiency is unique. This last phrase hints that the department is focusing its efforts on programs and services that foster citizens’ independence in attaining safe and healthy outcomes. The mission centers on partnering with the community—deliberate wording that suggests cooperation and goodwill.
Kansas City, MO
Both are longer statements, but each serves its distinct purpose without being repetitive. The vision statement describes Kansas City’s ideal world and uses ambitious phrasing like “nationally known” and “transformative.” The mission statement echoes the elements emphasized in the vision, particularly the customer focus, but also includes how the city will achieve its mission, with a focus on data-based decisions and measurable progress. This is a classic example of the lofty, future-focused vision and practical, present-day mission that helps to direct strategic decision making.
Mayo Clinic is internationally renowned for its quality of care, which is mirrored in its wording of these statements. The mission strikes a nice balance of aspirational and practical, with phrases like “hope” and “best care” grounded by the mentions of the clinic’s three operational focuses that will help it achieve its aims. The vision manages to address both patient experience and clinic reputation, while still being high-reaching and forward-thinking.
Alliance Health is a managed care organization that partners with more than 2,000 private healthcare providers to help people recover from mental illness and substance use disorders. Its vision is powerful in that it references becoming a “leader” and talks about “transforming” the delivery of care; it’s a statement that’s likely to inspire employees and help them see the value of their work. The vision also uses the phrase “whole person care” to highlight what’s unique about the organization. Finally, it clearly states the scope of terms of a specific geographic region—North Carolina.
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
St. Jude’s mission statement is well-crafted for many reasons. It’s action-oriented and weaves in a mention of the organization’s core value based on the founder’s vision. That value has a direct tie to how the hospital will achieve its mission. The vision is inspiring and ambitious, but doesn’t promise something it can’t deliver—the focus is on “progress” versus eradication. Both statements use the word “catastrophic,” linking the mission and vision and clarifying the focus of the organization.
Fox Chase Cancer Center
Fox Chase is a good mission vs. vision statement example because it uses different language in each, without confusing the two. The mission is creatively written, using phrases like “prevail” and “marshaling hearts and minds” that infuse energy and ambition into the statement. It also outlines the three areas it will focus on. The vision statement is briefer and centered on leadership, making it clear that this is its “destination.”
In this case, the mission and vision fit nicely hand-in-hand. Together, they show how the character of the institution plays into what it hopes to achieve: Fidelity’s desire to be a caring bank will carve out its reputation as the most trustworthy source of financial guidance in the places where it operates. Both statements also put great emphasis on personal relationships, using phrases like “friends,” “families,” and “communities.”
Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB)
Founded in part to help facilitate the growth and development of the Eastern Caribbean States, ECCB’s purpose (mission) is to advance the financial capabilities of a large group of people, which is markedly different from Fidelity’s mission. Its vision is specific in that it clearly sets a priority (everything employees do should be in service of creating a “thriving currency union”) and tells how to get there (through providing “exceptional service” and “influential policy advice”).
It’s important to note that mission and vision statements are usually paired with core values, which help employees and leadership alike align their work with the standards and desired outcomes of the organization. Once you have your mission, vision, and values solidified, it’s critical to weave all three into the operations of your organization. And remember, don’t let these statements sit and gather dust. Incorporate them into company communications and review them regularly to make sure you’re on track and keeping everyone engaged.
ClearPoint can help you organize and manage these foundational elements of your strategy as you build out goals and measure progress.
RJ drives new business for ClearPoint, guiding prospective clients through the sales process.