In The Dilbert Principle, oft-quoted business sage Scott Adams has this to say about mission and vision:
The first step in developing a vision statement is to lock the managers in a room and have them debate what is meant by a vision statement, and how exactly it differs from a mission statement. These are important questions, because one wrong move and the employees will start doing “vision” things when they should be doing “mission” things and before long it will be impossible to sort it all out.1
So, let's heed Scott's advice and sort this whole thing out before confusion reigns. What follows is my thinking on mission, vision, and strategy based on experience and the work of many writers, theoreticians, and practitioners.
Anyone encountering your company, whether it's a customer, current or potential employee, or strategic partner, will undoubtedly have a number of questions in mind. Who are you as an organization? Why do you exist? It is the mission of your organization that provides the answers to these vital questions.2
A mission statement defines the core purpose of the organization, its raison d'être, that is, why it exists. The mission also reflects employees' motivations for engaging in the company's work. In the private sector, which is strongly influenced by shareholder concerns, a mission should provide the rationale for ...