Visions and Missions

Learning Objectives

  • Describe the value of an organizational vision and mission

One of the biggest issues for any organization is keeping its members aligned, focused on the most important priorities—those that will deliver strategic objectives. This requires consistent communication, effective management and efficient resourcing. Further, some firms support this by publishing mission and vision statements to provide direction for the organization and to convey its values. While the values may be aspirational, the direction should communicate the strategic scope of the firm.

But going further, we should make a distinction between mission and vision statements. They are not the same. Mission statements describe what a firm does and/or wants to do now, while a vision statements is intentionally aspirational and describes what the firm hopes to do and be in the future. A mission statement describes the critical processes and performance that satisfies a specific customer. A vision statement is future oriented, meant to inspire. It often describes a future where the firm redefines the industry and benefits society overall.

For example, PepsiCo publishes this mission statement:

As one of the largest food and beverage companies in the world, our mission is to provide consumers around the world with delicious, affordable, convenient and complementary foods and beverages from wholesome breakfasts to healthy and fun daytime snacks and beverages to evening treats.

We are committed to investing in our people, our company and the communities where we operate to help position the company for long-term, sustainable growth.

By contrast, their vision statement is:

At PepsiCo, we aim to deliver top-tier financial performance over the long term by integrating sustainability into our business strategy, leaving a positive imprint on society and the environment. We call this Performance with Purpose.

It starts with what we make—a wide range of foods and beverages from the indulgent to the more nutritious; extends to how we make our products—conserving precious natural resources and fostering environmental responsibility in and beyond our operations; and considers those who make them—striving to support communities where we work and the careers of generations of talented PepsiCo employees.

Thus, the key distinctions between the two documents are time, orientation, and function. A mission statement is current and/or future-looking, whereas a vision statement is always future-looking. Mission statements deal with what we do and vision statements deal with what we aspire to be. Lastly, while mission statements function for internal communication and alignment, vision statements function as inspiration.

Despite their differences, both mission and value statements communicate the strategic scope of the firm.

Practice Questions