Difference between mission statement and vision statement

Every organization has specific goals and objectives which are described and presented in its vision and mission statements. The vision and mission of an organization are extremely important for future growth and development as they provide a direction for the organization’s future course of action. The purpose of these two statements is distinct for each company; however, often they are confused with one another.

In essence, a mission statement explains what an organization wants to do now. It focuses on the present, describes the customers, vital processes and the required level of performance in terms of its various core activities. On the other hand, a vision statement explains what the organization aims to be in the future. Its focus is on the future, and its objective is to motivate and inspire its employees. Some organizations not only define the future of their organization, but also describe the future of the industry or environment in which they are operating and which they are seeking to influence.

Definitions and meanings

Mission Statement

An organization’s mission statement provides a direction for its routine activities and for decision-making within the organization. It facilitates tactical planning, and guides the employees in fulfilling close-to-medium-term goals of the organization. It is reflective of all aspects of a company, including its customers, employees, products/services, quality, technology, market position and survival. It represents the core objective of the organization.

An effective mission statement includes the following attributes:

  • Organization’s objective and its values
  • The business that the organization wants to be in (products, service, market etc.), or the main customers and key stakeholders of the organization.
  • The current and potential responsibilities of the organization towards it customers.
  • The key objectives that facilitate the organization in attaining its mission.

Vision statement

The vision statement of an organization presents an overview of the organization from a wider perspective. It is a statement that explains the long-term plans of the company, while stating the reason for the existence of the business. It specifies the future objectives and values of the company and does not change as time progresses.

An effective visions statement has the following attributes:

  • Clear and unambiguous
  • Practical and attainable aspirations
  • Consistent with the values and culture of the organization
  • Expressed in a captivating and inspiring tone.

Differences between mission statement and vision statement:

The main difference between mission statement and vision statement is explained below:

1. Basic meaning

The mission statement discusses the main objectives of the organization, and how it will achieve those objective. The vision statement includes the position the organization wishes to attain in the future.

2. Questions answered

Mission statement answers the questions “What do we do?” and “What makes us different from others?”, while the vision statement seeks to answer the question “Where do we want to be in the future?”

3. Function and direction

The mission statement includes the wider goals for which the organization was created. Its core function is internal, i.e. to explain the main measure(s) of organizational success and development. Its core target is the leadership, employees, customers and stakeholders. The vision statement defines where the organization sees itself in the future, i.e. it presents the future aspirations of the organization.

4. Typical features

An effective mission statement includes organization’s objectives, values, the business the organization is in, the major customers, the responsibilities of the organization towards them and the main goals of the organization that would enable them to achieve their mission.

An effective vision statement is clear and unambiguous, hopes for a bright future, is realistic in its aspirations, is consistent with the organization’s culture and values and is expressed in a captivating manner.

5. Time and scope

The mission statement focuses on the present, whereas the vision statement talks about the future. The missions statement is supposed to depict the current status of the company, while a vision statement may be considered as depicting a picture of the company’s future.

6. Change possibility

The mission statement may be changed if needed; however, it sticks to its core values, goals, customer needs and vision. The vision statement is likely to remains the same till the organization remains operational.

Mission statement vs vision statement – tabular comparison

A tabular comparison of vision statement and mission statement is given below:

Mission statement vs Vision statement
Basic meaning
Discusses the key objectives and values of an organization, and offers directions to manage the daily activities of an organization Presents long-term plan, specify organization’s future goals and values.
Questions answered
“What do we do?” and “What makes us different from others?” “Where do we wish to be in future?”
Function and direction
Internal, i.e to describe the measures used to determine organizational success. Defines the future goals of the organization, and where it sees itself in future.
Typical features
Objectives and values, organization’s key stakeholders, obligations towards customers. Clear and concise, practice aspirations, consistent with the values and organization’s objectives.
Time and scope
Pertains to the present. Pertains to the future.
Change possibility
Is changed if needed, while remaining true to the key goals, objectives, values and vision of the organization. Does not change, remains the same as long as the organization continues to operate.

Conclusion – mission statement vs vision statement

From an organizational perspective, the mission statement and the vision statement are both extremely important for its long and short-term growth and survival. There is a close relationship between the mission and vision statements. The organization formulates its mission statement in accordance with the vision of the organization. Hence, it is very important to ensure that both the statements are clear, complete and precise in all aspects because the organization’s outcomes depend on it.

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