The Difference Between Vision, Mission, Strategy and Core Values

Vision, mission, strategy and core values are, in my opinion, the four foundational documents that should make up your core ideology, the governing documents that inform strategic direction and tactical implementation. All four are important, but they’re very different, and they’re often confused.

Vision

A vision is a clear, inspiring, practical, attractive picture of your organization’s future. It’s not a vision statement, but a vision script, and I detail that in my book. But it’s a three to five page document that talks about the future of your business three to five years from now. It’s written in the present tense, and it talks about the future of your team, the future of your product, the future of your marketing and the future of your impact. That’s vision, and it answers the question, where? Where are we going as an organization? Then there’s mission.

Related: Why Vision Matters Now More Than Ever

Mission

Mission answers the question, why? Why do we do what we do? And there’s four sub questions:

First of all, who are we? In other words, what are you in business to do? I’m in a leadership development company, that’s the answer to that first sub question. Second question, who are your customers and what problem do they have? So for me, I serve overwhelmed but successful business owners. That’s a distinct audience with a distinct psychographic problem. Third, what’s your unique solution? So for me, I provide the focus that those people need, those business owners need, and then here’s my promised transformation, and that’s the fourth question, and that is to win at work and succeed at life. So that’s mission, it answers the question, why? Then there’s your strategy.

Strategy

Strategy is how you’re going to get from here to there, how are you gonna get to the vision that you envisioned in that first document. Strategies can change. They change, can change as often as the conditions on the ground change, because you’re trying to get to that destination, that’s probably not going to change, but how you get there may very well change. Once the coronavirus hit, for example, our strategy had to change. Conditions on the ground changed. We’re still committed to the vision, but how we get there is gonna be very different. Then there’s your core values.

Core Values

Core values are really about who you are and more importantly, who you’re becoming on the journey to get to your vision. What kind of conduct do you expect? What kind of behavior do you tolerate? Who are you going to be in the process of the fulfilling of that vision?

Those are the differences. Vision, mission, strategy and core values, all different, but all essential.

Related: Vision: The Essential Leadership Ingredient

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