Most organizations have a mission statement, but many Board members and senior staff can’t articulate it well. Most paraphrase with some degree of accuracy. The mission statement is critical – it should explain why you exist, and more importantly, it should be a touchstone for Board decision making.
The mission revisit (which usually follows the situation review during strategic discussions) tests that there is a clear mission, and that the mission statement reflects it. Strategic planning discussions shouldn’t be used to wordsmith the mission.
There are three questions to ask when reviewing the mission; if you have clear answers, you have a clear mission. For some organizations the questions below need to be edited to get at the issues (they work best for program & service providers and advocacy groups).
- Who do you exist to serve? This is not who do you serve but who do you exist to serve?
- What is your goal for those you serve?
- What do you do to achieve that goal?
This is not a laundry list of activities but what types of activities do you undertake? For example, is the mission advocacy, or research, or programs and services? What is your contribution to the goal?
Sometimes this is the toughest discussion as boards and staff can have conflicting answers. This has to be resolved before developing a strategy. Once answers to these three questions are agreed, you can test them against the existing mission statement.
If the mission statement needs work, it can be assigned to a small group. You need the answers, not the ‘wordsmithed’ mission statement to develop a strategy.
The vision is aspirational and inspirational; it is seen stated either in terms of aspirations for your organization or aspirations for those you serve. Questions to ask include:
• What do you want your organization to be in 20 years?
• What would it take for you to go out of business?
The purpose is not to develop a vision statement but to test that there is a shared vision.
Want to learn more? Click here to connect with us or check out the next in our blog series will discuss strategic positioning, looking at your funding and sector