Your Questions Answered: Mission Statements & Vision Planning

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Recently, I received questions from Awake Leadership readers about the relationship between the team mission and the team vision: Could you please elaborate on the key differences between the team mission and team vision? Why do we need to construct and consider both with our team?

The first section of Awake Leadership is called Vision because the ultimate result of working through the section is to come up with your Vision Plan, which consists of a prioritized, optimized chart of team tasks that the whole team is aligned on. This serves as the foundation for moving through the following sections of Awake Leadership to really refine how that work is executed with the team, within the organization. Through a series of three step-by-step exercises in the Vision Section, you work from Vision Map, to Mission Statement, to Vision Plan. The progression shows that vision and mission are interrelated and I’ll explain more here.

Why construct your Mission Statement?

Your Mission Statement is about how you fit into the organization as a whole. How does your team contribute to the overall objective of the organization? A few weeks ago I wrote about Zooming Out to Zoom In on What is Important. Forming the Mission Statement is all about zooming out. When you understand your role in the larger organization, you can hone in on what specific objectives need to be met and what tasks need to be planned to accomplish the objectives. The mission is your team’s contribution to the organization that may change with time, but not as frequently as your Vision Plan. You could also think of your Mission Statement as the elevator pitch for your team. If you met someone in a different department that knows the organization but may not understand exactly what your team does everyday, you could tell them your mission statement and they should then understand how your team contributes.

Example Mission Statement: The mission of the product sales team is to spread awareness, information, and enthusiasm about our products to relevant potential and existing customers so that they truly understand the value and application.

Why construct a Vision Plan?

A Vision Plan is where you zoom in to design and work the tasks to accomplish your mission. If you have a great mission, that’s important, but with no plan for concrete execution and prioritization, you may feel as though you’re not making progress or taking leadership of your work efficiently. The Vision Plan is the manifestation of the mission statement: the tangible tasks toward the result of your work and how you fulfill your team’s mission. It’s an organized, actionable, optimized version of your original Vision Map tasks. It’s updated frequently as the business changes and evolves and it’s how your team collectively accomplishes big objectives.

Example Vision Plan tasks (related to Mission Statement example): research new customer segments, connect with existing customers, travel to conferences, attend product education sessions, write new product e-sales content material, update existing e-sale content materials, …

The Team Vision and Mission are different and interrelated.

In the book, I state that, “the Mission must always precede a Vision Plan and a Vision Plan must precede execution.” In the exercises, I take one step back and begin with a Vision Map because though many leaders may not be able to give you a Mission Statement off-hand, most leaders can begin by starting where they are: by listing the tasks they do each day. So we begin with listing Vision Map tasks. From there, you can more logically look at your work and the objectives of the organization and construct a Mission statement – something that is of utmost importance but can seem abstract without some prior work. You already know what it is; the preceding exercise just helps you form it more clearly. Finally, the Vision Map allows you to begin living the mission day-to-day, through actionable tasks. Again, the Mission Statement and Vision Plan serve as the foundation for moving through the following sections of Awake Leadership to really refine how that work is executed with the team, within the organization.

In summary, you need to understand how your team’s contribution fits into the overall organization and also know the concrete objectives and tasks for how you make it happen. Without awareness of either one, you may be doing redundant work or working inefficiently. I hope this helps explain the key differences between the Mission Statement and Vision Plan.

Also, I’m taking questions pertaining to the Awake Leadership sections. If you have a question related to the guide, please submit your question and I’ll address it in a future blog post.

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