A mission, vision, and core values are very important for a company. They tell what a company stands for, what its reason for existence is, what its future dreams are, and what values are important to the company. Companies with a clear and understandable mission and vision are generally much more successful than organizations that do not communicate this so clearly. An understandable mission and vision contribute to customer retention as well as employee loyalty. However, terms like mission, vision, and core values can also lead to confusion. That's why we provide clear definitions of these terms and give tips for formulating a strong mission, vision, and core values for your company.
Put simply, a mission is what a company stands for. It is the reason for the company's existence and is inseparably linked to the organization's identity. The mission describes what the company does and for whom they do it. It is about the need the company fulfills. The company's unique selling points also play a significant role in the mission.
The company's mission is communicated to the outside world. It describes the company's identity and shows where the company currently stands. So, a mission is about the present time.
A mission should answer at least the following questions:
It is important that a mission is easy to communicate to the outside world. In a few sentences, it should be clear what the company stands for. It should also be realistic so that people will believe in the mission.
While a mission mainly concerns the present, a vision is about what a company wants to achieve in the future. The vision provides direction to your company. It tells where you would like to be in ten or twenty years. What do you want to achieve for the world? A vision is about what you want to contribute to with your company.
A good vision inspires. It gives direction to a company and communicates a clear vision for the future. A vision is about the ideal situation you would like to create with your company. You can think big for your vision. Nobody expects you to have realized your vision in ten years, but it indicates what you want to commit to with your company. The Vision can depend on changing environmental factors. Two important elements of a Vision are:
A mission and a vision are closely related. They are inseparable from each other. However, there are indeed differences between a company's mission and vision. The most significant difference is that a mission concerns the current situation, while a vision outlines the ideal future scenario. When formulating a mission and vision, it is essential to keep this difference in mind.
When formulating a mission and vision, you often come across the term 'core values.' As the word suggests, these are the values that are most important in your company. This includes how you interact with each other, but also values you want to convey to the world. These values may include sustainability, customer orientation, creativity, loyalty, tolerance, or care. But there are many more core values you can use.
When defining core values, it is essential to be honest and sincere. If you choose sustainability as one of your core values but then work with highly polluting products, you are shooting yourself in the foot. Customers, as well as business partners, will take your company much less seriously if you say one thing and do another. When formulating your core values, consider choosing values that you genuinely embody. Only then will they contribute to the success of your company. Core values can often be linked to competencies, which is ideal for testing new employees to see if their skills align with the company's core values.
In practice, filling in the mission, vision, and core values can sometimes pose some difficulties. It may be that after the explanation of the meanings of the terms, you still don't really know how to formulate a strong mission and vision yourself. Defining core values can also lead to some problems. That's why we first provide you with a clear example of all three concepts here and then help you with a step-by-step plan to formulate a mission, vision, and core values for your company.
LEGO is a well-known toy brand. The toy manufacturer was founded in Denmark in 1932. Almost 100 years later, children from all over the world play with the iconic blocks. On their website, LEGO clearly communicates what they stand for and what their mission, vision, and core values are.
In the above image, it is very clear that a mission and vision can be communicated in just a few words. LEGO's core values are also conveyed in only six words. This shows that a good mission and vision clearly communicate what a company stands for and what the ideal future scenario looks like according to that company, even in just a few words. Naturally, for well-known companies like LEGO, it is easier to express the mission and vision in a few words because everyone knows them. For an average SME or SME+ company, you will need more words to convey the message effectively.
Now that we have seen in the above example what a mission, vision, and core values can be, it's time to get started on your own.
A mission is primarily an indication of the field of work, answering fundamental identity questions such as:
It is a description of the core activities of the organization. In Anglo-Saxon literature, it is usually referred to as 'What business are we in?'
In the second place, a mission represents the reason for existence, the 'raison d'être,' or 'organizational purpose' of a business. This implies that there are people (read: customers) outside the company who could use the company's products. A mission, therefore, answers questions about existence such as:
These needs, which can be both functional and emotional, should preferably be expressed in generic terms.
So, not: We sell drills, but: making holes in the wall.
Stakeholders are the interested parties or individuals involved with the company or organization. Typically, stakeholders are distinguished from shareholders or owners and may include customers, employees, suppliers, specific groups like local residents or unions, and finally, society as a whole. The mission statement is used to make (normative) promises to these different groups of stakeholders:
A mission statement is an excellent tool for conveying to everyone the norms, values, beliefs, and other principles that the company would like to represent:
This gives the mission somewhat the character of a 'self-fulfilling prophecy' because explicitly stating norms and values in a mission is considered a first step in achieving the desired behaviors.
Now that you have clearly stated on paper what your company is all about, it's time to formulate your mission. For this, take all the information you have written down and summarize it in a few sentences. As the LEGO example shows, a mission can even consist of a single sentence. But a mission with multiple sentences is also acceptable. The most important thing is that it becomes clear in a few sentences what your company stands for.
To come up with a good vision, you need to have a good idea of the developments, both current and future. This determines the environmental picture.
The key question here is:
An answer to this question is not the result of thorough analysis and long-term observations. The answer is more of a collective feeling that, through logical reasoning, outlines the expected future. 'Given the current trends, we expect that in three to five years... etc.' This future outlook will relate to customer needs and buying behavior but also to technological development, competitive relations, legislation, social, and economic factors.
Secondly, a vision should always include an image of the place and position of the organization in that distant future. It's about questions like:
A success formula answers the question:
"The success formula should make it plausible how you think you can achieve your 'corporate dreams.' It can be a description of the factors critical to your success. Or what sets you apart in the market from others in the eyes of the customer, your so-called UBV (Unique 'Business Value). Or those 'resources' that allow you to stay one step ahead of your closest competitors,"
If you have gone through the above steps, you have a clear vision. Ensure that you present the result in simple and clear language. Avoid using jargon and make it inspiring. This way, the vision can stand the test of time.