Vision, mission, mantra and more

 “It is awfully important to know what is, and what is not, your business.” —Gertrude Stein

One of the most important guiding principles in building a cohesive corporate plan is to align every member of the team behind the company’s vision and mission, and give everyone the tools to tell the story.

The exercise of building a vision and mission statement is not a waste of time, but can be done in a way that wastes time. It needs to be a lively, energetic, and fun process that’s well managed and respects people’s time.

Everyone should watch Guy Kawasaki’s excellent instructions how on how to build a “Mantra.”

Watch the “Golden Circle” TED talk by Simon Sinek — isn’t the center the vision of the company? I think so. People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. People buy from you because they believe what you believe. Mr Sinek says we have to communicate from the inside out.

Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action

Here’s a worksheet I’ve developed that guides discussions.

What is a vision statement?

  • Defines high level goals, and answers the question “Why are you here?”
  • States what you envision for your business, and shows you where you want to go

What is a mission statement?

  • The concise statement of the business strategy from a customer’s perspective
  • States the present, leading to the future (vision) and answers: “What do we do?” “How do we do it” and, “For whom do we do it?”
  • The mission statement may change, but it should always tie back to the ’s vision

Where do people “find” a company’s vision and mission?

They’re typically on the “About” page, if at all. Not every makes them easily apparent. A vision/mission is not a tagline. It’s also unlikely to appear word-for-word on the Home page. It should provide a prism through which view the strategy for your business and make decisions for our roadmap. It should advise you what to do as well as NOT do!

Example vision and mission statements

Apple Vision: “Apple is committed to bringing the best personal computing experience to students, educators, creative professionals and consumers around the world through its innovative hardware, software and Internet offerings.”

Apple Mission: “Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.”

Facebook Vision: To make the world more open and connected.

How do you know if you’ve got it right?

The vision is:

  • Aligned with your inner instincts and beliefs in what you are trying to achieve
  • Easy for employees and partners to understand and rally around — unambiguous
  • Goes beyond the immediate future — think 5–10 years!
  • Fundamentally inspiring, memorable and hopeful, but nonetheless realistic

The mission is:

  • Clear enough to help direct daily strategic and tactical decisions
  • Shows who your stakeholders are, our responsibility towards those stakeholders, and the business you’re in

The public statement making it understandable to everyone

When someone asks “What does your company do?” the answer should be understandable, with more detail providing more clarity. Be able to answer:

  • What do we do?
  • How do we do it?
  • Who do we do it for?

Guess the company — can you tell who these companies are? (Answers at the end)

Company A

  • Vision — To become the worldwide leader in retailing
  • Mission — To help people save money so they can live better

Company B

  • Vision — To design and create in this decade the new global network, processes, and service platforms that maximize automation allowing for a reallocation of human resources to more complex and productive work
  • Mission — To exploit technical innovations for the benefit of ??? and its customers by implementing next-generation technologies and network advancements in ???’s services and operations

Company C

  • Vision — Advance technology that touches peoples lives
  • Mission — To enable people and businesses to communicate with each other

Company D

  • Vision — To allow people to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them
  • Mission — ? mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.


A – Walmart

B – AT&T

C – Verizon

D – Facebook

A Kickass Personal Mantra

Sir Richard Branson, founder of The Virgin Group

“To have fun in [my] journey through life and learn from [my] mistakes.”