Why You Should Kill Your Vision and Mission Statements

I often see an unhealthy and unhelpful infatuation with vision and mission statements. There is a substantive and critically important difference between vision statements, and vision itself . . . between mission statements, and mission itself.

At times, it seems as if some organizations have “borrowed” (think copy and paste) their statements from other organizations. This creates questions in my mind about the actual vision and mission that may, or may not be behind the statements. Statements can be a crutch and a very poor substitute for the real thing.

Sure, crafting well thought out vision and mission statements can help with clarity. It can force at least some of the right questions and conversations that lead to appropriate decision points. These decision points can help clarify and solidify direction.

However, the same statements that help clarify direction, can also put you in a box and lock you into a “vision” and “mission” that is either incorrect, myopic, or even small.

You should just kill your vision and mission statements. Then, concentrate on having and articulating a robust vision and mission. To do so well, you will need to go way beyond puny statements.

Compelling vision and mission helps keep your organization on the correct, forward-moving trajectory. If your vision and mission aren’t meaningful, impactful and God-sized, then regardless of what you execute tactically, it will fall short.

 

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7 thoughts on “Why You Should Kill Your Vision and Mission Statements

  1. Hey, Kerry. Thanks for these thoughts! I’ve seen some of what you’re pointing out as well, especially in non-profit work. For clarity’s sake, when you say that vison and mission should be robust, are you recommending that (if written) they be pages in length? I’ve seen such vision and mission documents and they tend to be difficult to remember and create too much ambiguity even as they strive to be comprehensive. I’ve found that a simple mission and vision statement can become a rallying cry and focus point for a large organization or movement, but such statements are usually fewer than 10 words, and use non-technical language. To be sure, having a well-crafted statement is not going to make things happen, but could be a valuable tool toward that end. Would you agree?

    • Jase,

      This post was really an overstatement to emphasize that vision/mission statements themselves can be limiting and stifling. They can be a crutch when legit vision/mission might be lacking. IMO, full and detailed strategy documents are needed to unpack vision/mission and to outline a plan toward their fulfillment.

      In that sense, yes, simple and concise statements can be helpful. But, they are no substitute for actually having vision and mission. Does that help?

      Kerry

    • Jase,

      This post was really an overstatement to emphasize that vision/mission statements themselves can be limiting and stifling. They can be a crutch when legit vision/mission might be lacking. IMO, full and detailed strategy documents are needed to unpack vision/mission and to outline a plan toward their fulfillment.

      In that sense, yes, simple and concise statements can be helpful. But, they are no substitute for actually having vision and mission. Does that help?

      Kerry

      • Thanks, Kerry. That does help. The overstatement obviously succeeded in getting my attention and interest! :) I like that. If I rephrase the heart of your point, would it be fair to say something like… “Creating vision and mission statements won’t substitute for actually having vision and a mission. It’s better to spend time getting the real thing than faking some seemingly compelling statements without it.” Still, best to have both I imagine? I appreciate your provocations!

        • Jase, thanks for your comments. I can definitely go with your rephrase. I’m comfortable with having both as long as the statements themselves aren’t seen and understood as the actual vision and mission. You with me?

  2. as one of my pastors always says, “If it isn’t written, it doesn’t exist.” I agree that there is something clarifying about writing it down. That said, mission and vision statements are tools rather than boxes. Don’t let them box you in. Or worse yet, don’t put them in a box and close it tight, never to look at them again.