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31 Days to Becoming a Better Leader


Day #5: Organizational Vision and Mission

Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.  – Jonathan Swift

An essential part of successful strategic planning was in creating our core values and guiding principles. Now everything we do must be in line with those.

Next in importance is the development of our Vision and Mission Statements. I realize that everyone teaching strategic planning is not on the same page with definitions of these, however concepts are similar.

Vision: the Concept

Define who you are and or what you are doing. Describe the reality of your organization in the future expressed in present tense. It should be short and memorable. Stakeholders can say the vision easily from memory.

Some Samples:

  • Rise Against Hunger: We are eliminating hunger in our lifetime.
  • Goodwill: Every person has the opportunity to achieve his/her fullest potential and participate in and contribute to all aspects of life.
  • Oxfam: A just world without poverty
  • The Nature Conservancy: To leave a sustainable world for future generations.
  • Habitat for Humanity: A world where everyone has a decent place to live.

Mission: the Application of the concept

Define how you will achieve the vision. This is a tactical statement so the listener or reader will understand the pathway to achieving the vision. This can be longer and even use bullet points if that’s good for highlighting steps in a process.

Some Samples:

Rise Against Hungeris driven by the vision of a world without hunger. Our mission is to end hunger in our lifetime by providing food and life-changing aid to the world’s most vulnerable and creating a global commitment to mobilize the necessary resources.

American Museum Of Natural History: Discover, interpret, and disseminate   through scientific research and education – knowledge about human cultures, the natural world, and the universe.

Best Friends Animal Society: End the killing in America’s animal shelters and create a time when there are no more homeless pets. We do this by building community programs and partnerships all across the nation.

Steps for creating a mission statement:

  1. Convene the stakeholders (board, staff, founders, and others passionate about the organization) and give each person a marker and half sheet of paper – listen to day 3 for using a storyboard. Allow everyone to have input to the creation of ideas and in the sorting process to follow.
  2. Talk about the work we are doing or will be doing, basically its storytelling.., This will help people to remember why they have chosen to be a part of this mission. Ask them to capture key words or phrases on the papers – remember, print BIG, use fewer words and more than one word. Capture the concept.
  3. Share all the idea by placing them on the sticky storyboard. Then ask the group to highlight commonalities in the ideas.
  4. Create a list of the key concepts in a new set of papers on a new board or new area in the same board. Fine tune the language.
  5. Assign at least 3 people to work on creating and wordsmithing a statement to bring back to the full group for review and approval


  • Give it some time. Rest and time away from the project allow time for reflecting and thinking.
  • Don’t consider stopping with the first to tenth draft. Consider revising it over a couple of months, if possible.
  • Share the statement with others who are not away of the organization and get their comments on clarity and purpose.
  • Adopt a final version, but remain open to reviewing the statement annually.

Next: Day 6 Strategic Plan

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