How To Create a Vision and Mission Statement

Let’s play a game. Below are five vision statements. Your challenge is to guess which vision statement belongs to which of these five brands: Microsoft, Nike, Google, Amazon, and Tesla.

Ready? Let’s go…

“To empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”

“To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.”

“To provide access to the world’s information in one click.”

“To be Earth’s most customer-centric company.”

“To create the most compelling car company of the 21st century by driving the world’s transition to electric vehicles.”

Here are the answers:

Microsoft – “To empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”

Nike – “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.”

Google – “To provide access to the world’s information in one click.”

Amazon – “To be Earth’s most customer-centric company.”

Tesla – “To create the most compelling car company of the 21st century by driving the world’s transition to electric vehicles.”

How did you do? My guess is that you probably hit 100%. That’s because you know each of these brands and what they do, so you can guess their big aspirational goal or vision statement.

But what about you?

In this post, I will show you step-by-step how to create your vision and mission statement. A great vision statement tells the world where you want to be in the future, and a great mission statement tells the world how you will get there.

People get these mixed up all the time. However, there are also 1,000 other variations of these types of statements. For example:

Purpose statement Charter Statement of intent Values statement Business Philosophy Operating principles Aspirations statement Strategic vision Dream statement Guiding beacon… and on and on and on. If you’re a business guru and thinking of inventing a new one, please don’t – we have enough to keep track of!

For this post, I’ll only discuss how to create a great vision and mission statement for your team, organization, or community.

To set things up, imagine that you and I made a New Year’s resolution to climb a mountain. After some research, we set our sights on climbing Denali (Mount McKinley), a mountain with an elevation of 20,310 feet. Our long-term goal was to climb Denali within the next ten years. This is our big long-term vision.

Creating a Vision Statement

Imagine setting off on a journey without knowing your destination. That’s what running an organization without a vision statement is like. Your vision statement is your North Star, guiding you towards a future you aspire to create. It’s the “what” of your organization’s story – the ultimate dream you’re striving to turn into reality.

I like to say, “What mountain are you going to climb?”

And no, binge-watching all seasons of your favorite show in one sitting doesn’t count as a mountain, tempting as it may be.

Here are four quick tips for crafting a great vision statement:

Dream Big: Think about what you want your organization to be remembered for in the long run. Your vision should be ambitious and aspirational. Remember, it’s not just a target; it embodies your organization’s dreams and highest aspirations.

Be Clear and Concise: While it’s great to dream big, clarity is key. Your vision should be easily understandable and memorable. Avoid jargon and complex language. Simple, powerful words make the most impact.

Make it Inspiring: A compelling vision statement should inspire and motivate your team and stakeholders. It should resonate emotionally, creating a sense of excitement about the future. Align with

Your Values: Ensure your vision aligns with your organization’s core values. This alignment ensures consistency and authenticity in your operations and decisions.

With those tips in mind, let me walk you through an example of a hypothetical company,

‘GreenTech Innovations.’ Their vision might be: “To revolutionize environmental sustainability in technology, creating a greener planet for future generations.” Notice how it’s ambitious, clear, and aligned with their value of environmental sustainability.

When you ask yourself, “What mountain do we want to climb?” What you are really asking is, “What big problem would we love to solve?” Or, “What kind of world would we love to live in?” What would you have solved through your work if everything went right over the next 1, 3, 5, or 10 years?

Some examples would be:

A world in which no one is hungry. A campus where every student is respected. A campus with zero waste. A campus where everyone feels safe. An organization where our creativity has no limits. A campus with zero student apathy. A department where everyone gets accepted to their dream job. Notice that each of these examples is broad and ambitious. You want your vision to be inspirational. It shouldn’t be easy to achieve. It should take a long time and might extend past your group tenure.

Some Real-world examples would be:

Patagonia: “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”

Teach For All: “One day, all children will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education.”

Charity Water: “We’re on a mission to bring clean and safe drinking water to every person on the planet.”

Airbnb: “To create a world where anyone can belong anywhere.”

Khan Academy: “A free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere.”

WWF (World Wildlife Fund): “To build a future in which people live in harmony with nature.”

TOMS: “To improve lives through business, using our purchasing power to bring about positive change in communities worldwide.”

These examples highlight the vision statements of well-known companies and nonprofits that inspire action, embody their core values, and express a larger mission to make a positive impact in their respective fields.

Notice that vision statements are usually less than three sentences and usually only one…. though sometimes they are long run-on sentences if you ask me.

Now, it’s time for you to create your vision statement.

Some prompts to get you started would be: The vision of our group is to live in a world where… One day, we envision a campus that… Our vision is to… In 10 years, we will have… At this point, you should understand how to create your vision statement, so let’s move on to your mission statement.

Creating a Mission Statement

Now that you are clear on your mountain peak, it’s time to decide which path to take. Each mountain might have several ways to reach the top. If your vision (mountain peak) is to give every girl in the world access to free education, the mission (path) is how you will do it. Will you achieve that vision by building schools, giving away books, developing apps for phones, or advocating for changes in local laws?

Your mission answers the “how” of your story – how you plan to achieve your grand vision. You see, each one of those missions is a different path up the same mountain to reach the peak.

So, what path are you going to take?

Your mission statement should closely relate to what you will do as a team or organization.

Amazon aims to “Be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”

Starbucks’s mission is “To inspire and nurture the human spirit—one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.”

Apple: “To bring the best user experience to its customers through its innovative hardware, software, and services.”

Disney’s mission is “To entertain, inform, and inspire people around the globe through the power of unparalleled storytelling, magical experiences, and beloved characters.”

Your mission and vision statements should seamlessly align with each other.

“We want to see a world where…(vision). We will achieve this by (mission).”

“Through creating…(mission), we will make…(vision).”

“By building…(mission), in 10 years we will…(vision).”

4 quick tips for crafting a great mission statement:
  1. Outline Your Purpose: Start by defining what your organization does. What are your core activities? What makes you stand out?
  2. Focus on Impact: Consider the impact of your activities. How do you make a difference? What value do you bring to your customers, community, or the world?
  3. Be Specific: Unlike the vision statement, a mission statement needs to be more specific. It should detail what you do, for whom, and to what end.
  4. Ensure Feasibility: Your mission should be achievable and realistic. It should guide your daily operations and decision-making processes.

These tips and examples give you everything you need to create a great vision and mission statement.

I know we didn’t actually climb a mountain, but that’s what it feels like when you finally write down your mission and vision.

Let’s Recap:

Vision Statement – The Dream: Your vision is the peak of the mountain, the big, audacious goal you’re aiming for. Remember, it’s about dreaming big but keeping it clear and inspiring. It’s your organization’s ultimate aspiration, like creating a greener planet or empowering everyone on Earth.

Mission Statement – The Path: Your mission is the path you take to reach that peak. It’s more specific, actionable, and focuses on the impact you make every day. It’s about how you will achieve that dream, whether through innovation, customer service, or storytelling.

Creating a vision and mission statement isn’t just about fancy words on a website; it’s about defining your organization’s soul. It’s about aligning your team’s compass toward a unified direction and marching together toward that goal.

Remember, your vision and mission should reflect each other. If your vision is the destination, your mission is the vehicle that gets you there. They should complement and strengthen one another, giving your team a clear sense of purpose and direction.

And if you’re still mixing up mission and vision statements, don’t worry – it’s like mixing baking soda with baking powder in a cake recipe. The cake will still rise. When it comes to mixing up your vision and mission statement, just make sure to tell your people where you are going and the other tells them how you will get there.

So, what’s next?

Next Steps To Take:

Brainstorm: Gather your team and brainstorm. What’s your big dream? How will you achieve it? Collaboration can lead to powerful insights.

Draft and Refine: Draft your vision and mission statements. Then, refine them. Make them clear, inspiring, and aligned with your values.

Communicate and Implement: Share your vision and mission with your team and stakeholders. Let these statements guide your decisions, strategies, and daily operations.

Review and Adapt: Regularly review your vision and mission. As your organization grows and evolves, so should your guiding statements.

Leaders, remember, you’re not just managing tasks; you’re leading a journey towards something extraordinary. Your vision and mission statements are your map and compass in this adventure.

As we wrap up, I challenge you to start crafting your vision and mission today. Make them alive in your organization’s culture. Watch as they guide you toward success, innovation, and impact.

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