Mission: An Organization’s Purpose
Mission can be defined as your organization’s purpose. Vision can be defined as your organization’s potential. Values are the principles by which your organization conducts its actions. Success is when you are consistently guided by a set of principles to achieve your purpose and maximize your potential.
In his book The Leadership Crisis and the Free-Market Cure, John Allison writes, “The organizing principle of human action is purpose. As human beings, we are purpose-driven entities. In order to get there, we must know where we are going. Individuals need a sense of purpose. Organizations (businesses churches, civic organizations, universities, and so on) are simply groups of individual human beings. For the organization to be successful, the people in the organization must vest in the purpose/mission of the organization.” (The Leadership Crisis and the Free Market Cure: Why the Future of Business Depends on the Return to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness by John A. Allison, 2015)
It is imperative that your organization have a mission statement and that mission statement is reviewed often. Mission statements explain why you are in business. They can include a promise or commitment to your client. But they must include the quality and service or product you provide. They serve as a guide for your stakeholders to remind them what they should be doing, why they are doing it and how best to utilize often scare resources to achieve the vision of the organization. All too often, valuable resources are misappropriated to fulfill other agendas. That is why it is so important to review the mission statement and make sure all available resources are utilized to fulfill the mission. If all available resources are not utilized to advance the company mission, it will be difficult to fulfill the company vision.
One example, I can think of happened at a non-profit I volunteered at. We were starting a new group of female philanthropists who supported the organization. We were thinking of ways to engage them. The Development Director suggested we should start a mentorship program at a local high school. Great idea? It would have been if the mission of the organization that we were working for had been to educate, engage, and empower youth to reach their full potential as caring, productive, and responsible citizens. However, that was not our mission. It was not even close. For confidentiality reason, I cannot disclose the mission statement of the organization, but let me assure you nowhere in the mission of the organization was mentorship mentioned. Had we continued down that path, potentially hundreds of volunteer hours would have been dedicated to advancing the ball of another non-profit’s mission. More importantly, we would not have advanced the ball of the organization we were working for.
I learned this very early in my career. Nowhere is it more critical to keep your eye on the ball than a recovery effort. In the aftermath of storms, our primary mission was to recover the network. You recover the network one site at a time. All available resources needed to be channeled to that end. Time was of the essence. Labor resources were often limited. We had to make every second count. In the hours after a catastrophic event, every available resource needed to be singularly focused on the recovery of the network. Only activities that got us one step closer to recovering a site or activities that supported the team that recovered the site could have priority during that time.
Whether your organization recovers networks or mentors kids, your success truly depends on how well your mission, vision, values, and actions align. It is imperative that:
Only when your organization achieves that alignment does your vision become possible.