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Vision & mission: know the difference

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

Many people don’t have a clue about the difference between “mission” and “vision.” In fact, most use the terms interchangeably.

What’s worse, almost nobody can say that their organization’s mission statement really means anything.

So, let’s take a hard look at these two words. After all, communication is the essence of leadership and words are the building blocks of communication.
  • Mission = “purpose, reason for being.”

  • Vision = “a picture or image of the future we seek to create.”
Not the same thing at all.

“Mission” gives you direction and tells you why. If you’re truly mission-based, you can look at any decision and tell whether it fits the organization’s reason for being. That means your people should feel free to protest any activity that seems unconnected to the mission. Clarifying the mission is everybody’s job.

“Vision” is your intended result. It’s not why or how, but what.

Lesson: In a great organization, people in positions of authority know they’re not the source of authority. The mission is the authority and the vision is the outcome.

— Adapted from “The Practice of Innovation,” Peter M. Senge, Leader to Leader.

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