Management Tools

Mission and Vision Statements

Mission and Vision Statements

Along with strategic planning, mission and vision statements are among the most widely used tools, and consistently rank above average in satisfaction.

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Mission and Vision Statements

A Mission Statement defines the company’s business, its objectives and its approach to reach those objectives. A Vision Statement describes the desired future position of the company. Elements of Mission and Vision Statements are often combined to provide a statement of the company’s purposes, goals and values. However, sometimes the two terms are used interchangeably.

Usage and satisfaction among survey respondents


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How Mission and Vision Statements work:

Typically, senior managers will write the company’s overall Mission and Vision Statements. Other managers at different levels may write statements for their particular divisions or business units. The development process requires managers to:

  • Clearly identify the corporate culture, values, strategy and view of the future by interviewing employees, suppliers and customers
  • Address the commitment the firm has to its key stakeholders, including customers, employees, shareholders and communities
  • Ensure that the objectives are measurable, the approach is actionable and the vision is achievable
  • Communicate the message in clear, simple and precise language
  • Develop buy-in and support throughout the organization


Companies use Mission and Vision Statements to:


  • Guide management’s thinking on strategic issues, especially during times of significant change
  • Help define performance standards
  • Inspire employees to work more productively by providing focus and common goals
  • Guide employee decision making
  • Help establish a framework for ethical behavior


  • Enlist external support
  • Create closer linkages and better communication with customers, suppliers and alliance partners
  • Serve as a public relations tool

Management Tools & Trends

Five key trends emerged from Bain's survey of 1,268 managers.

Selected references

Abrahams, Jeffrey. The Mission Statement Book: 301 Corporate Mission Statements from America’s Top Companies. Ten Speed Press, 2004.

Collins, Jim, and Jerry I. Porras. “Building Your Company’s Vision.” Harvard Business Review, September/October 1996, pp. 65–77.

Collins, Jim, and Jerry I. Porras. Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. HarperBusiness, 2004.

Jones, Patricia, and Larry Kahaner. Say It and Live It: The 50 Corporate Mission Statements That Hit the Mark. Crown Business, 1995.

Kirkpatrick, Shelley A. Build a Better Vision Statement: Extending Research with Practical Advice. Lexington Books, 2016.

Kotter, John P. “Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail.” Harvard Business Review, March/April 1995, pp. 59–67.

Kotter, John P., and James L. Heskett. Corporate Culture and Performance. 1992. Reprint. Free Press, 2011.

Nanus, Burt. Visionary Leadership. Jossey-Bass, 1995.

O’Hallaron, Richard, and David O’Hallaron. The Mission Primer: Four Steps to an Effective Mission Statement. Mission Incorporated, 2000.

Raynor, Michael E. “That Vision Thing: Do We Need It?” Long Range Planning, June 1998, pp. 368–376.

Wall, Bob, Mark R. Sobol, and Robert S. Solum. The Mission-Driven Organization. Prima Publishing, 1999.


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