“The basic definition of the business and of its purpose and mission have to be translated into objectives.”
– Peter Drucker, Management Consultant
This morning, I reviewed our website stats and was amazed to see that a really old blog post of mine about creating vision statements continues to be one of the primary sources of organic traffic for our site.
That’s great because it implies an interest in vision statements, which help provide organizations with long-term direction.
Still, I often come across organizations that follow the misguided practice of creating a „strategy pyramid“ with ongoing initiatives squeezed into the „pillars“ of what is labeled a „strategy,“ and then adding a grand Vision statement at the top. In my opinion, this approach is flawed, and the pyramid visualization that is commonly used may be contributing to it.
Building a stable organization requires inverting this pyramid with Purpose, Vision, and Mission as the foundations for any strategy discussion.
As I discussed in a previous post, a purpose defines the benefit an organization creates for its stakeholders and answers its Why. Being purpose-oriented also has several advantages. For instance, organizations with a clear purpose report 30% higher levels of innovation and enjoy faster growth, according to Deloitte.
A purpose aids an organization in creating a Vision that outlines its long-term goals. This Vision should reflect the purpose and point towards the desired future state without being too specific about how to get there. For instance, Google’s Vision, „To provide access to the world’s information in one click,“ is not immediately feasible but shows the clear long-term ambition to make the world’s information accessible as easily as possible.
A Mission defines what an organization wants to achieve in the short to mid-term and builds on the Vision while providing direction for decision-making. It answers questions like who the organization is, what it does, how it intends to do it, and for whom.
To stick to our example, Google’s Mission, „To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,“ is more tangible and practical than its Vision and can guide an implementation strategy’s what and how.
Creating and word-smithing all three, Purpose, Vision, and Mission, as elaborate statements may be an over-the-top exercise for most organizations. However, the underlying discussion and thought process is to my mind not, as it helps create a solid foundation for strategy and product strategy development.
If given the choice, I prefer developing a Mission Statement. It provides the most tangible starting point for strategy and product strategy discussions.
Today’s reads (and views) lend a hand in developing these foundations of the inverted strategy pyramid.
Creating a Meaningful Corporate Purpose
Former Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly explains why a corporate „Why „and making sure it guides decisions and operations has become a cornerstone of doing business successfully.
What Is a Vision Statement?
Business News Daily’s Sean Peek explains why writing a vision statement for your business can be challenging and provides many tips and examples for creating a helpful Mission statement.
How to Create a Mission Statement in Five Simple Steps
We created this video a while ago based on the method for developing mission statements we have used with clients for almost a decade now.