July 11, 2011
Early in my career I used to think that purpose, vision, and mission statements were basically just corporate catch phrases. They hung on the walls in the office and became the tag line on emails from senior management. Now, keep in mind that I was just a few years out of college and I thought I knew it all! Doesn’t that sound just like your average recent college grad? I understood that it was important to clearly define the organization’s purpose and to have a well written, actionable vision and mission statement. But I didn’t really make the connection that those statements were there to guide every employee. They were not just cute sayings, but rather truly guidelines to set the direction and plan for the organization!
After I had a few years under my professional belt, I began to fully embrace the benefits of each statement. When employees at all levels in the organization understand the purpose, they can see how what they do everyday helps drive the organization closer to the vision. And when they are unsure whether what they are doing is driving toward the vision, they can look to the mission statement for confirmation or a new path to the vision. So if you are still treating your organization’s purpose, vision, and mission statements like something to tweet, I urge you to stop! Don’t just casually read these statements; use them every day. They tell you what to do, why you’re doing it, and how to do it.