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Vision, Mission & Values - Do We Need All 3?

By Ferris Consulting
Lawyer Marketing
The terms vision, mission and values have become over used words and often are confused with old fashion strategic planning retreats where hours and even days are spent word smithing a mission statement that is never looked at again. Many times the words are interchanged causing more confusion over the value for creating a mission, vision and value statement.

I often write about the importance of developing a unified vision for helping an organization to achieve accelerated and profitable growth. Recently, a client asked me a very interesting question. “What is the difference between vision, mission and values, and what does each component do and why you need all of them?”

The terms vision, mission and values have become over used words and often are confused with old fashion strategic planning retreats where hours and even days are spent wordsmithing a mission statement that is never looked at again. Many times the words are interchanged causing more confusion over the value for creating a mission, vision and value statement.

This article will give a brief overview of what the terms mean and why they are important.

Mission: Mission or purpose is the reason for the firm or organizations existence. It answers the question, why do we exist? Another way to look at mission is to ask, what would happen if we disappeared?

I just saw a great film this weekend called Julia and Julie, about the life of Julia Child. In the film, Julia Child experiences several road blocks to publishing her first cook book, "Mastering the art of French Cooking." At one point in frustration, her partners wanted to give up. Julia reminds her partners why they are writing the cook book- to adapt sophisticated French cuisine for mainstream Americans. With that purpose in mind, she continued to meet with publishers and pursue their goal until their book was Published in1961. The 800-page book was considered a groundbreaking work and has since become a standard guide for the culinary community. Her purpose to adapt French cuisine for mainstream Americans is what helped to keep her focused and eventually achieve her most important goals.

Vision: Vision is a clear image of your desired future. It is a picture of the future you seek to create. A statement of your vision shows everyone in your firm or organization where you want to go and what you will be like when you get there. Vision answers the question, what do we aspire to become?

Vision paints a picture of what everyone agrees the organization will look like in the future. It gives shape and direction to the organization’s future and helps people set goals and prioritize strategies for moving the organization closer to its desired results.

Julia Child’s vision was to change the way Americans related to food. No question, Julia succeeded in achieving her vision.

Values: Values describe how we intend to operate, on a day-by day basis, as we pursue our vision. Values are best expressed in terms of behavior and are the guiding principles by which an organization operates. What do we do when no one is watching? Examples of values in firms I have worked with include excellence, integrity, client focus, etc.

The key to having a value is not so much what the word is but how an organization defines the value in terms of behavior. Unlike a vision which can change, values never change and are the “rudder of the ship” helping an organization to make decisions and behave in a manner that is in alignment with what the organization stands for.

In Summary, vision answers the question, what do we want to achieve? Mission answers the question, why do we exist? and values answer the question, what do we stand for? All three answers are essential for creating a foundation to advance an organization for achieving accelerated and profitable growth.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Elizabeth Ferris
Elizabeth Ferris, founder of Ferris Consulting, specializes in assisting lawyers, collaborative professionals and mediators to grow their practice through result-oriented marketing and practice development strategies. She has worked with practitioners across North America and Europe to implement effective strategies for increasing awareness and demand for their services.

Copyright Ferris Consulting

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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