• Scott McInnes

56 | Defining Mission, Vision, Values and Purpose

I spent the day in Amsterdam last week with a new client and one of the things we did was to explore their existing purpose, vision, mission and values.

One's about where your business is today, another about where it’s going tomorrow, one about how you’ll get there and finally, why you’re doing it.

For many people in business, these terms are still a bit of a mystery and, oftentimes are mixed up. Is that our vision? Or mission? Ambition? Purpose? What’s the difference?

So I thought it might be useful this week to throw down a few definitions.

In English!

Purpose - For me, if you really want to get your people on the bus, having a really compelling purpose is key. I’ve heard purpose described as ‘the philosophical heartbeat of a business’ and I like it. Ask Simon Sinek and he’ll tell you that it’s 'WHY you do what you do'. In short, it’s the more emotional reason your business exists, it connects more strongly with your people and is more motivational. It’s the difference between ‘We make gin’ and ‘We create fun nights out’ - something that’s more likely to get them out of bed on a rainy Tuesday in January.

Vision - I often switch Ambition in here, I just find it more motivational. This is your future state, a description of where you hope to be in a few years time - it gives your people a shared deliverable to shoot for - ‘in three years time we’ll be Ireland’s most exported gin.’

Mission - This is your current state and describes where your business is today. Often it combines what you do, where you do it and who you do it for. ‘With discerning gin drinkers our focus, we create the best gin the Dingle peninsula has to offer'.

Values - If purpose and vision are your North Star, then your values are your map and compass. By living the values and exhibiting the behaviors you’ve defined in your business, you’ll more easily and effectively achieve your goals. They should be clear and understandable and everyone across your business should be able to apply them, regardless of their role.

Describing them is pretty simple. Defining them a bit less so - they can be very subjective (and the great thing about opinions is that everybody has one!)

There are plenty of tools and frameworks out there if you do a bit of Googling.

Or you can call us and we’ll help. ;-)


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