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PHIL KEIL, from page 1 1) Why – vision statement 2) What – mission statement 3) How – values statements 4) Objectives 5) Strategy 6) Goal 7) Action

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For this conversation, we will focus on defining the two highest levels of this hierarchy, the vision and mission. The vision statement is an aspirational description of what an organization would like to achieve or accomplish in the mid-term or long-term future. It is intended to serve as a clear guide for choosing current and future courses of action. In other words, a vision statement is an articulation of a view of the world that your company and your people are working toward (a just cause/purpose), not what they are expected to do now. It is a vivid picture of where you are headed to motivate others to take the journey with you. This is also something that you may never achieve, at least in your lifetime. Revisiting our theme, one of the strongest vision statements of all time can be found in the Declaration of Independence . Interestingly enough, the pursuit of happiness was originally derived from John Locke’s trinity, “life, liberty, and property,” however, the fear was that by including property it would give the proponents of slavery an argument that slavery was enshrined. Property rights therefore were assumed at the time and removing it further advanced many of the founder’s goal of abolition of slavery. Now, the following example is longer than we normally advise for the firms we work with due to some of the explanatory components of the statement. Providing the additional context is something, however, that we often encourage within the context of your website, certain project/client pursuits, or in how it applies to a number of other scenarios. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…” Moving along to the mission statement, this is our what. Properly crafted mission statements (1) serve as filters to separate what is important from what is not and (2) communicate a sense of intended direction to the entire organization. In other words, this statement is intended to describe what we are doing to achieve our vision. The difference in the two being that the vision is a description of an end state and the mission is what we are doing to get there. Just as the Declaration of Independence was a document intended to describe America’s why, the reason why governments are instituted in the first place, the Constitution describes what we are intended to do to get there. The mission statement can be found right in the preamble. “We the People of the Unites States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” I hope that you find this information useful as many firms are entering the strategic planning and business planning season. If any of this is still unclear or you need help building a true legacy building/purpose led strategy, please give us a call. PHIL KEIL is director of strategy services at Zweig Group. Contact him at

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