Mission statements

Mission Statements

Mission statements guide the organization in its day-to-day operations, while visions provide a sense of direction in the long term -- they provide the means to the future. A good Mission Statement normally contains what is important to the organization and its purpose. However, it is often intertwined with a vision to guide its future. For example, one of the best ones is the Starbucks Coffee Company Mission Statement:

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

  • Provide a great work environment and treat each other with respect and dignity.

  • Apply the highest standards of excellence to the purchasing, roasting, and fresh delivery of our coffee.

  • Develop enthusiastically satisfied customers all of the time.

  • Contribute positively to our communities and our environment.

  • Recognize that profitability is essential to our future success.

While Starbucks' focuses on the present, it does indicate that it will be used for future decisions. Others have clearly focused on the future:

What have you done today to enhance (or at least insure against the decline of) the relative overall useful-skill level of your work force vis-à-vis competitors - Tom Peters in Thriving on Chaos.

When Tom Peters writes of “enhancing,” he is speaking of the strategic plans that will grow the employees to meet tomorrow's challenges. Strategies are forward-looking. They provide the guidelines for growth, thus they are often closely related with visions. Tactical is more or less -orientated to the present and is related to mission statements. When he writes of “insure against the decline of,” he is speaking of the tactical impediments that are presently challenging employees from meeting expected performance standards.

In order to grow, you must be able to ward off present roadblocks. Thus, a tactical plan is about providing performance stability so that change may take affect for growth. This sounds sort of like a paradox — providing stability so that change may take place. That is, if performance keeps collapsing, then you have to keep rebuilding, thus it is downright difficult, if not impossible, to grow to the next level. So you use tactical measures to stabilize performance (prevent its decline) and to reach the next strategy objective. This is kind of like a series of steps going up a staircase. The horizontal part of the step is the present performance, which must be stabilized, while the vertical part of the step is the next strategy objective, which must be met, overcome, and then stabilized.

Next Steps

For more examples of examples of Mission, Vision, and Value Statements, see Leadership and Visioning (the examples start about 1/2 way down the page).

Go to the Main Leadership Menu

Also, see Strategy and Tactics.