Being a facilitator for many different kinds of planning activities I am always pleased when I can find an opinion piece that mirrors my own views about what is important in these discussions. Mission and vision statements have long been held up as the most important thing to do before any other step in planning. They do have a purpose in business but perhaps too much importance is put on them. An article in a recent online magazine, Business Finance, Best Practices for Finance Executives, leads off with this title and opening commentary. Read on by linking through the title.
Don’t kid yourself about mission statements. Putting a bunch of words together and pasting them on the wall does not change a thing.
Someone organizes an off-site strategic planning meeting for all the key executives. One of the first tasks is to create a mission and vision statement for the organization. A management guru in the 1980s decided that writing these magic sentences will somehow keep an organization more focused on what they are good at doing. A mission statement is supposed to answer the question: What does the organization do? A vision statement is supposed to answer the question: What is the most important thing for the organization to accomplish in the next 3-5 years?
Ideally both statements should be crafted by the CEO or a single executive, but rarely is this case. Organizations today like to do everything in teams in order to get “buy-in” from everyone. The fallacy is that even though a team may have spent 4-8 hours agonizing over some vague paragraph or sentence, no one leaves happy with the end product. The final statements are compromises and end up getting so watered down that any real meaning is usually lost.”