5 Steps to Developing Memorable Mission and Vision Statements

Mission and vision statements are essential elements of a strategic planning process. If your mission and vision are not concise or clear, then it’s probably time to embrace the idea of revisiting these statements. When the Interfaith Works Board of Directors, of which I’m a member, identified a need to develop an inspirational and memorable vision statement, it became an opportunity to improve how the current mission was stated. I led this process by developing a strategy that engaged cross-functional staff and other board members, as well as facilitating an interactive workshop. If it’s time to revisit your mission and vision, start by having a clear understanding of the differences between these statements and follow these five steps.

What’s the difference?

Mission statements need to reflect your organization’s purpose in a concise, understandable and memorable way. A mission focuses on today and answers why an organization exists – what it does, who it does it for and how it does it.

“Inspiring communities to bring dignity and hope to youth in foster care.”

Vision statements are what all employees understand their work every day contributes towards accomplishing over the long term in an inspirational and easy to repeat way. A vision focuses on tomorrow, what an organization ultimately wants to see—the desired future.

“A world where everyone has a decent place to live.”

Step 1: Develop a Mission and Vision Strategy and Team
Determine your goals and develop a strategy to help guide the process. Identifying team members will be a key component in the strategy. Although boards are responsible for the mission and vision statements, involving key staff and other stakeholders (e.g., members, donors) can help build consensus for the effort, as well as a greater buy-in for the results.

Step 2: Educate the Mission and Vision Team
Identify an opportunity or two, perhaps during a board or senior staff meeting, where the workshop facilitator can present the strategy, goals, and examples of inspiring mission and vision statements. The team should walk into the workshop with a clear understanding of their goals. Providing this background information in advance will help ensure a more successful kickoff.

Step 3: Hold an Interactive Workshop
“What does it look like when we’re doing our best work?” “What do we want to see?” Asking these questions and more will help guide the storytelling process about your organization. The result is the identification of words and ideas related to your organization’s Actions (what we do), Cause (who, what, where) and Impact (what changes for the better/results from our work).

Step 4: Get Full Board Approval
A successful Mission and Vision Team Workshop will produce concise, memorable and inspiring mission and vision statements to present to your governance committee and/or board of directors for approval.

Step 5: Introduce the New Mission and Vision—Internally and Externally
Now that you have approved mission and vision statements, you need to let your stakeholders know. You’ll need a plan to introduce the new mission and vision to your employees, and other key audiences, as well as ensuring that the statements are guiding components of your planning efforts, policies and proposals.

What’s Next?
The work doesn’t end there – you’ll need an ongoing strategy to keep your mission and vision top of mind with your employees, in alignment with managerial decisions and continue to accurately voice why your organization exists and what you’d like to see happen in a perfect world.

Is it time to revisit your mission and vision? I’d love to help.