Mission vs. Vision LO26758

From: Fred Nickols (nickols@att.net)
Date: 06/03/01

Replying to Felicia Stewart in LO26745 --

>Can you please contribute your thoughts re the following statement:
>"missions and visions are virtually the same thing".

I don't view them as being the same. For me, a mission refers to course
of action, whether it is as specific as "take that hill" or as broad as
"provide the best value in consulting services." For a live example, my
current "mission" is to "weave the discipline of project management into
the fabric of the organization." A vision refers to a view of some future
state or condition. Assuming I succeed in weaving project management into
the fabric of the organization, what will things look like? What signs,
signals and indicators will tell me and others that my mission has been
fulfilled. In my case, I've concluded that I will have succeeded if there
is sufficient evidence that a community of practice (CoP) of project
managers can be said to exist. Thus, the CoP of project managers is both
the measure and the means of success.

Organizationally, many people seem to use mission to refer to the purpose
or raison d'etre for the organization (e.g., we are here to....) and they
use vision to refer to the CEO's (or other leader's) view of the future.
(It is hoped and sometimes claimed that the leader's vision needs to be

Mission Statements are something else altogether and frequently have no
connection whatsoever to mission or vision. These are political devices
and typically suffer from too much wordsmithing. They rarely communicate
much of anything to anyone. Their main value seems to be to have
something at hand in case anyone inquires as to the organization's mission
or mission statement.

>Do you know of any
>industry experts that argue for or against?

I assume your "for or against" refers to for or against treating mission
and vision as the same. On my part, I don' t know anyone who argues that
they are the same, although I know a few who doubt that either adds any
real value. Several people I know draw a sharp distinction between the
two, including myself. As for "industry experts," those are by definition
industry specific. Which industries did you have in mind?

Fred Nickols
The Distance Consulting Company
"Assistance at A Distance"
(609) 490-0095


Fred Nickols <nickols@att.net>

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