What is the difference between Mission and Purpose and Vision?

Having a strong sense of Purpose that inspires people makes a real difference as our recent webinar explained.  But on that webinar about creating and sharing Purpose there were lots of questions about terminology.  It is clearly an area that causes confusion.  Most clients need to spend time on this and many different companies use the terminology in different ways.  Here are some useful definitions.  What is important is that you decide what makes sense to you and then use the terminology consistently.

Mission and Purpose

These are used interchangeably but think of Mission as What we are here to do and Purpose as Why.  Mission for Google is: “To organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,”

Samsung introduces a “why” into their Mission Statement: “To inspire the world with our innovative technologies, products and designs that enrich people’s lives and contribute to social prosperity by creating a new future.”

The “why” is important and it usually refers to who we are doing things for.  It provides the inspiration.  In other words, why the “what” is worth doing.   For Google it is about making information available to everyone.  For Samsung it is about enriching lives and creating prosperity.

Now look at Amazon: “To be the Earth’s most customer centric company where people can find and discover anything they want.”  You see the same pattern of a What and a Why.

Vision

This is about what the world will look like when we are successful.  Google describe their vision as “to provide access to the world’s information in one click.”  Sounds pretty much like the mission to me.  Both Samsung and Amazon describe their Vision as their Missions.  But there is a difference.  Compare how Oxfam and Vodafone describe their purpose and their vision”

Oxfam

Purpose: “To help create lasting solutions to the injustice of poverty. We are part of a global movement for change, one that empowers people to create a future that is secure, just, and free from poverty.”

Vision: “A just world without poverty: a world in which people can influence decisions that affect their lives, enjoy their rights, and assume their responsibilities as full citizens of a world in which all human beings are valued and treated equally.”

Vodafone

Purpose: “To connect everybody to live a better today and build a better tomorrow.”

Vision: “A converged communications leader, a Gigabit Vodafone for the Gigabit Society.”

There are differences but clearly there is a close link between why we are here and what the world looks like as a result of our presence.  Both vision and mission are designed to help clarify and inspire.

Strategy and values

Strategy is easier to, at least, define.  It is a plan.  It may be very high level or more detailed but it explains how we will get to our vision.

Values are the underlying tenets that govern how we will work.  our principles and standards that will guide our actions and behaviour.

 

Summary

Definitions

 

 

 

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