Mission Statements
Vision Statements

last updated 2014 Nov 17
see also GOPST - Goals, Objectives, Plans, Strategies and Tactics  witiger.com/ecommerce/GOPST.htm
see also SWOT - Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats  witiger.com/ecommerce/SWOT.htm

For the students of Prof. W. Tim G. Richardson, Toronto, Canada


according to Wong et al
in the MRK 106 text
Mission Statements - "an organizations basic purpose of being"

It orients the company
- it supplies guidelines for senior managers when they are facing difficult problems or tackling new marketing situations

Mission Statements can change 
- they may have to be adapted as new marketing situation arise, eg. Honda's switch from motorcycles to cars to SUVs, Mark's Workwearhouse, changed from focusing on Men's work clothes, to women's leisure clothes

see  www.stfrancis.edu/ba/ghkickul/stuwebs/btopics/works/mission.htm  by Leann Cardani of St. Francis University

"Creating a mission is one of the first actions an organization should take. ...By defining a mission an organization is making a statement of organizational purpose. 


according to Strategic Marketing
by Mooradian et al
Mission / Vision Statements "clarify the firm's identity and purpose and should include at least four elements
  • the core purpose of the company
  • the core values of the company
  • the visionary goal
  • a vivid description of the envisioned future"
"Mission and vision statements should be the primary stipulations and records of 
  • what the organization is
  • why it exists
  • what its values are
  • how it does business
  • and what it intends to become"
Vision vs Mission 
Mission Statements explain what the company is good at, who the customer is that they care about, and what the company does that might be really good compared to the competition.

Vision statements explain where the company is going in the future - it should have some words that deal with future changes and how the company is going to make some changes to deal with changes in the competitive environment and the technological environment.

Some people get a vision statement confused with a mission statement. "A vision statement pushes the association toward some future goal or achievement, while a mission statement guides current, critical, strategic decision making," (Drohan, 1999).
Some people suggest that corporate consultants are constantly trying to "re-invent" the "power" and prestige associated with such terms and may be trying to sound "more important" by saying "it's not a simple 'ol Mission Statement, it's a Vision Statement"

If properly written, Vision Statements can be a check to make sure that the words outlined in the Mission Statement and Goal and Objectives fit - meaning the Vision Statement sets up the future things you are trying to achieve, and if you waste energy on things in a Mission or Goal and Objectives that DO NOT fit the Vision, then you should not do those things.

"Without a clear Vision Statement that everybody understands how do you know where you are going? Typically you don’t and you end up coming in with a different idea every week that you are sure will help you succeed."
Blair Koch  http://tabdenverwest.blogspot.ca/2009/09/vision-statements-vs-mission-statements.html
Sometimes companies also have Mission Statements in addition to a Goal. One of the big differences between a Mission Statement and a Goal is that a Mission Statement is often worded in such a way that it can be used in advertising and P.R. For example - the corporate Goal might be 

"To be the largest forest products company in Canada"

 the Mission Statement might be 

"Contributing to our Environment, through Responsible Harvesting". 

They don't like to convey the image of "cutting down trees", so they use a euphemistic phrase "harvesting".




Goals-- Goals are the ultimate thing you want to achieve. Usually a Goal is a single thing, but in some cases it can be two things. If there are more than three Goals - then maybe they aren't Goals, but rather Objectives. Goal are the statements that a company uses to motivate employees and statements used to judge and measure challenges that you face. 

Goals are supposed to be what you end up with , if you have achieved your objectives. Excellently worded goals should include statements indicating something that can be accomplished from Objectives that are met.


  • To be the largest on-line cosmetics retail site on the planet.
Mantras vs Mission 
click Student Varsha P. at UTM in MGD415 in Jan 2009 emailed to say
"Dear Prof. Richardson,

I was doing my normal time wasting activity of looking at YouTube videos when I came across a video of Guy Kawasaki and his discussion of mission statements vs. mantras."

Varsha added
"I thought that what Guy said was very important and useful to understanding PDOC (planning, directing, organizing and controlling).

Guy said that Mission Statements can be, in some situations, useless. Companies pay consultants thousands of dollars to determine an appropriate Mission Statement but the end result is not as effective as a Mantra.

Guy explains that a Mantra is a short phrase or sentence that truly captures the essence of the company in a way that long, impersonal Mission Statements can't. He gave the suggestion that Wendy's should change their Mission Statement into the Mantra - "Healthy Fast Food". This Mantra can be driven home to each employee from high level management to lower level staff.

After listening to Guy Kawasaki, I have to agree that a Mantra would be more effective and entrepreneurs should focus on them instead of Mission Statements. "

Click this link to view the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jT7xlFTinIw

Jasbindar Singh is a business psychologist
- she writes in her blog about what she thinks of Kawasaki's concept of a Mantra

Mantras vs Mission 
Witiger, I think Mission Statements do not need to be replaced, but rather it might be understood that a Mission Statement is a "publicity oriented" statement of what the corporation wants to accomplish whereas a Mantra is a motivationally oriented "expression" that can serve as an identifying slogan/phrase to assist in accomplishing "branding" objectives.

I also think it depends on what type of company you are talking about - if it is a branded consumer products company in an intensely competitive environment (such as cosmetics or beverages) it may help to have a Mantra, if you are an autoparts company that primarily deals in B2B situations, a Mantra may be meaningless cause the general public has no opportunity to ever know about you.

are a waste
of time !
1. Not everybody thinks Mission Statements are valuable
2. Whether they are valuable or not, a number of people think the way companies write Mission Statements is 
  • not effective and 
  • does not add value to the management process 
  • nor does it usefully connect to the customer
David Henderson (www.davidhenderson.com) is a well known U.S. journalist and author

professor at the University of Virginia and has been a lecturer at the George Washington University graduate school of communications

Henderson has made a number of comments on Mission Statements

In a July 2012 article Henderson advises

'Someone cooked up the idea of “mission statements” back in the 1970s as an angle to sell books about how to run a business. The concept flooded into MBA programs ostensibly as a way to get a competitive edge. It’s a useless exercise because mission statements are wordy gobbeldygook.

Mission statements are inward-looking words intended to get everyone in an organization on the same page. Sort of like, we are nice people who will treat our customers with respect and provide high quality products. In other words, it’s a company or organization talking about itself. Not only boring and bland but who cares?! Absolutely no one."

Henderson makes the valid point that 

"No one cares to hear any company talk about itself. No one cares. It’s a harsh reality for some C-suite types to comprehend but it’s true. No one, including shareholders, cares “about” your outfit."

Henderson's best advice is that

"What matters is how incisively a company or organization positions itself in today’s fiercely competitive world and how they can explain – in 12 words or less – what’s special and distinctive about products and services that anyone should scramble to buy or invest. Positioning is trust, interest, influence, and, yes, excitement in the value of a company’s unique products and services. "

retrieved 2012 Aug 21.

are a waste
of time !

huh ??

examples of some Mission Statements that 
  • don't make sense
  • are confusing to understand
  • and it is challenging to figure out how the words motivate the employees or comfort the potential customers

Barnes and Noble

"Our mission is to operate the best specialty retail business in America, regardless of the product we sell. Because the product we sell is books, our aspirations must be consistent with the promise and the ideals of the volumes which line our shelves. To say that our mission exists independent of the product we sell is to demean the importance and the distinction of being booksellers.

"As booksellers we are determined to be the very best in our business, regardless of the size, pedigree or inclinations of our competitors. We will continue to bring our industry nuances of style and approaches to bookselling which are consistent with our evolving aspirations.

"Above all, we expect to be a credit to the communities we serve, a valuable resource to our customers, and a place where our dedicated booksellers can grow and prosper. Toward this end we will not only listen to our customers and booksellers but embrace the idea that the Company is at their service." .


Who needs them !
Who reads them !

Dr. Irving H. Buchen - formerly  a professor at Cal State, University of Wisconsin, and Penn State. Currently at Capella University and IMPAC University.


In a Aug 2011 article, Prof. Buchen explains Mission Statements are often not relevant because the plans and strategies, upon which they are based, are changing rapidly in a competitive global economy.

Buchen says 
"The process itself has been found to be faulty and lame. Moreover, the often unhappy and pompous results have been turned back upon its hapless creators to question whether they do more harm than good. In any case what has become clear is before we can turn to the often unhappy results we need to examine first the process that created such inflated outcomes.

A number of flaws seem built in. The most obvious is that although mission statements are intended to speak and apply to all, relatively few are actually involved in the process itself. In addition, the members of the appointed task force often contain so many mostly familiar names and faces that the final outcome is predictably the same old, same old.

Then too those chosen for the task often do not reflect internal company demographics and variety; or more significant perhaps are not generally representative of customer diversity and cultures. Finally, the head of the task force is usually a reluctant leader, an old hand who has been around the block many times, and a seasoned professional who is known for his ability to complete tasks on time and within budget—all of which misses or falls short of catching the special dynamics of crafting statements of focus and force."


examples of some Mission Statements 

University of Toronto

UofT's Mission

"The University of Toronto is committed to being an internationally significant research university, with undergraduate, graduate and professional programs of excellent quality."
Between the declared Mission and statement of Objectives, UofT has a section titled 

"Purpose of the University"

"The University of Toronto is dedicated to fostering an academic community in which the learning and scholarship of every member may flourish, with vigilant protection for individual human rights, and a resolute commitment to the principles of equal opportunity, equity and justice."

"Within the unique university context, the most crucial of all human rights are the rights of freedom of speech, academic freedom, and freedom of research. And we affirm that these rights are meaningless unless they entail the right to raise deeply disturbing questions and provocative challenges to the cherished beliefs of society at large and of the university itself.

It is this human right to radical, critical teaching and research with which the University has a duty above all to be concerned; for there is no one else, no other institution and no other office, in our modern liberal democracy, which is the custodian of this most precious and vulnerable right of the liberated human spirit."


WTGR's comments

as a person who has taught at UofT for 12+ years, and also been a UofT student
(PhD courses)

In developing this page on Mission Statements for my college and university students taking business and marketing courses, it seemed relevant to look at the mission statements of the academic institution in which these students are spending their time, and money.

My personal opinion of the UofT "Purpose of the university" is that it is disconnected from the customer - meaning (in my opinion) it has little to do with providing an intelligent and relevant education for the students, and spends an inordinate amount of emphasis on the "rights" of the professors to research and study whatever the heck they want... and seems to make a very egotistical point  about "...no one else, no other institution..." which sounds like elitism.

I also disagree with invoking the phrase "human rights" in the sentence "human right to radical, critical teaching and research"

This trivializes the concept of human rights
Human Rights is a phrase that should be applied to things such as

  • right to life
  • freedom from torture
  • freedom from slavery
  • right to a fair trial
  • freedom of speech
Teaching what you want and researching what you want is, in my opinion, not a right, it is a privelage provided by the ministry of education which is paid for by the tax paying public.

Just saying...



examples of some Vision and Mission Statements in the financial community

RBC Dominion Securities  http://dir.rbcinvestments.com/pictures.....f

CIBC - short and simple
as part of their Corporate Responsibility Report

BMO Nesbitt Burns  http://www.bmonesbittburns.com/IA/I............

Mission Statement http://www.scotiabank.com/images/tt/en/files_AboutScotiabank/1648.pdf
Core Values  http://www.gbm.scotiabank.com/AboutUs/AB_Core_Values.htm

TD Bank  http://www.td.com/corporate-responsibility/crr-2010/our-approach/about-td/index.jsp


Mission Drift

When an organization starts to develop objectives that 

  • take it away from the original goal
  • or when the people tasked with developing the plans, (to meet the objectives) start going off in a different direction
this is referred to as "Mission Drift"

Maclean's magazine had a good article in the 2014 Nov 3rd issue 

discusssing Mission Drift using the example of the government health care agencies.

Maclean's pointed out that it has become "fashionable" for Canadian public health departments to spend time talking about "income equity" as a grave threat to health care with the suggestion that we just need higher taxes of rich people and all the poor people with poor health will be fixed.

Ebola !!! - Maclean's ran a cover story saying the WHO World Health Organization had "failed to provide effective leadership in the fight against Ebole..", but had instead made a big deal out of having a conference on smoking tobacco - with a focus on even high taxes on tobacco.


Mission Drift

"Mission drift is a condition of diminished IMPACT due to decision that subtly alter the course of an organization. Ultimately these decisions hinder the organization's ability to reach its intended destination. Some symptoms of mission drift are:

  • Intensely focusing on internal needs rather than external IMPACT.
    • often happens in a large organization that focuses on process, not results
  • Compromising the mission to secure funding - aka chasing money.
    • because fund raising can be "glorious" and allow for association with celebrities
  • Justifying new funding or program opportunities as extensions of our mission.
  • Allowing the urgent to usurp the important and pursuing the immediate at the expense of the long-term.
  • Diverting staff time and focus from the core mission to accomplish a lesser good.

Mission drift usually occurs when an organization's finances are constrained and leaders feel desperate to act. They may even bend their principles to accept some help."

from http://www.xfactorllc.com/resourcesarticlesdetail.asp?id=35
An Atlanta, Georgia based consulting company serving non-profit groups