Mission, Vision, Strategy | Think in reverse
Passionned Group is a leading analyst and consultancy firm specialized in Business Analytics and Business Intelligence. Our passionate advisors assist many organizations in selecting the best Business Analytics Software and applications. Every two years we organize the election of the smartest company.

The direction of your organization

Your organization needs a crystal-clear mission, vision, and strategy, or it’ll fall behind the competition. How do you direct the course and mission of your organization? Anglo-Saxon companies tend to have a somewhat different approach than more Rhineland-based strategy models. Both can be used to your advantage.

In many Anglo-Saxon countries, the trinity of “mission, vision, strategy” is well-known. But this order isn’t generally accepted. Sometimes, it’s presented as “vision, mission, strategy”. We’ve even come across companies that employed different orders on different levels of the company – confusing! It’s important to be crystal clear and logical, especially when it comes to strategy.

The mission can serve as beacon, but is least specific

It usually starts with formulating your mission. We call this the mission statement. It can serve as a beacon, but it’s the least specific. From top to bottom, you’ll have to make it more specific, practical, concrete, and unique. No two organizations will end up with exactly the same strategy formulation. Think about the definition of your competitive edge to the balanced scorecard that monitors the implementation of your strategy.

Our order of “mission, vision, strategy is different

This page offers a concrete framework to capture your complete company strategy. Our order is a little different, as you can see below in the suggested hierarchy of company statements:

Table mission vision strategy

Table: hierarchy of company statements (from Collis & Rukstad, HBR, April 2008)

It all starts with a vision

Many companies start with their mission, but we see their vision of the market as the most important starting point. The vision defines the reason they’re in business in the first place. Usually, it’s a perceived lack or flaw in the existing offerings of the competition the organization thinks it will meet. Passionned Group’s mission is to make every organization intelligent.

The Swiss watch: Hipper and more affordable

For example, the Swatch company thought that there were a lot of high-quality Swiss watches on the market, but they could stand to be hipper and more affordable: that was their vision. From that belief, they formulated their mission: “offering hip, affordable, high-quality watches”. With their unique, hip look based on synthetic materials, and using far fewer parts than traditional watches. That’s how they managed to find new demographics.

The mission follows from the vision

It follows that the mission is simply filling your perceived gap in the market. Your mission indicates what your organization wants to contribute to society. An insurance company could, for example, have the following mission: “giving consumers financial security.”

The same mission

But many companies in the same industry often have the same mission. Don’t all insurance companies want to offer financial security to their customers? Your vision and your mission are important and give direction but take care: they’re not enough to serve as a strategic anchor for all sorts of concrete decisions.

Values

Your mission and vision are embedded in a set of ethical values. That’s what your organization stands for. How ever important and real, the formulated values are not strategic in the sense that they can direct behavior. They give direction in the sense of “doing things right”, but they don’t say anything about “the right thing to do”.

Strategy follows from vision and mission

Mission, vision, and values within an industry may not be very distinct, but that’s okay. As long as your strategy sets you apart from the pack. Within that framework, you have to specify three things for your business model: your goals, your reach, and your competitive edge.

If you’ve clearly defined these three things, you can start making a real difference in the market you operate in. If your strategy is practically identical to that of a competitor, it’s not a good strategy. Carefully and accurately describe your organization’s unique activities. Doing this will clarify how you can create a distinguishing customer value proposition, one that others can’t just copy. That’s the core of your strategy.

A sharp characterization

Even a relatively simple formulation of your strategy can provide a sharp characterization that could only fit your organization. That’s what you should strive for. It’s that specific, characteristic thing that you have to describe clearly, and your employees have to embody that. Only then will they be able to see how their everyday activities contribute to the success of the organization. It enables them to make the right decisions, independently, when faced with tough decisions in their work. Do you have a clearly formulated and distinct strategy that’s embraced by your employees? That’s what makes your company successful.

The Balanced Scorecard: monitor your mission, vision, and strategy

A Balanced Scorecard doesn’t just clarify how to implement and monitor strategic plans, but also when new problems arise. And to what degree the company can keep realizing their mission. A powerful tool, all in all.

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Daan van Beek, CEO & expert Mission, vision and strategy

DAAN VAN BEEK MSc

CEO & expert Mission, vision and strategy

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