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How Good Is Your Team’s Vision/Mission Statement?

Does your organization have an effective Vision/Mission Statement?

If you’re involved in starting any team endeavor, the very first thing I recommend you figure out is your Vision Statement. (note: I consider “Vision” and “Mission” Statement interchangeable for this post).

What is a Vision/Mission Statement?

A vision statement is a single sentence that explains clearly and specifically what it is you or your business are trying to create in the future.

I have three tips for you:

1) A Vision/Mission Statement Is Concise

When Sergey Brin and Larry Page walked into Sequoia Capital’s offices to ask for an investment into their new startup Google, they explained their vision in these words:

“To provide access to the world’s information in one click.”

Those 10 words were so key to Sequoia’s investment in Google, that Sequoia now requires all of its entrepreneurs to have a Vision Statement of 10 or fewer words before they even get a meeting with Sequoia.

Note: While I don’t recommend you get hung up on your vision statement being 10 words or less, I have noticed that the best vision statements are 15 or fewer words (see Vision Statement examples below).

2) A Vision/Mission Statement Is Specific

On May 25, 1961, U.S. President John F. Kennedy gave a speech to Congress in which he said:

“I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth.”

Look at how specific JFK was:

  • Goal: Man on the moon (and back safely)
  • Time Frame: By the end of the decade

On July 21st, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped on the moon and three days later the Apollo 11 crew returned safely to Earth.

3) A Vision/Mission Statement Answers The Question: Are We Working On The Right Thing?

If you’re working at Disney Land (perhaps dressed as Donald Duck) and you’re faced with a crying kid or upset parent, does this Disney Vision Statement help them figure out what to do:

“To make people happy.”

I think it sure does!

How about if you’re an employee on the team at Amazon, and someone suggests the aggressive idea of same-day shipments of products to customers.

Is that consistent with Amazon’s Vision Statement of:

“To be the world’s most customer-centric company.”

It sure is.

Do Vision Statements really make a difference?

Apple Versus Microsoft On Vision/Mission

It’s fascinating to look at the Vision of two very successful companies — who competed — from their early days…and see how things turned out:

Microsoft’s Vision (about 30 years old) was:

“A computer on every desktop.”

And Apple’s Vision (also around 30 years ago) was:

“A computer in the hands of everyday people.”

Isn’t it interesting how things turned out:

Microsoft’s Vision was focused on volume: “A computer on every desktop.”

And sure enough Microsoft ended up with their products on the most desktops in the world.

And Apple’s Vision was more focused on quality/usability — “…in the hands of everyday people.”

Microsoft went after quantity; Apple went after quality.

Check out this cool list of 20+ Vision/Mission Statement Examples I compiled — inspiring!