Mission, Vision, and Values

More than once, I’ve heard start-up entrepreneurs downplay the importance of having statements of mission, vision, and values. Frankly, this is very short-sighted. The leader may know the content of such things, as they perceive them, but they need to document and communicate with stakeholders and employees. Ultimately, employees should be able to find their work content and contribution in these governance documents.




the Present What do we need to do to move from   where we are to where we want to go?

the Future

VALUES = How we do what we do


Pearce and Robinson (2005) describes the company’s mission statement as “The unique purpose that sets a company apart from others of its type and identifies the scope of its operations in product, market, and technology terms.”

The mission statement is about the present or the current situation. Important items to find in a mission statement include the image of the firm, product or service, market, primary customer needs, technological areas of emphasis, and values or priorities.

The following template works in many applications: To provide (goods, services) to (customers, stakeholders) in such a way that (values, style).


Pearce and Robinson (2005) describe the company’s vision statement as “A statement that presents a firm’s strategic intent designed to focus the energies and resources of the company on achieving a desirable future.”

Since the vision statement is about the future, an important decision to be made is “What is the future?” For many companies, three to five years is an appropriate strategic planning time frame. For some, that’s an eternity. The strategic advantage has long come and gone. Their cycle must be much shorter.


Values can be though of as filters thorough which decisions are made, culture norms, acceptable behavior, or practical habits.

Patrick Lencioni (2012) focuses on “core” values. They should be limited to two or three. They should reflect behavioral traits (inherent in the organization), at the heart of the organization’s identity, that do not change over time, and must already exist (cannot be contrived).

Lencinoni encourages us to avoid “aspirational” (values we want), “permission-to-play” that are “me too” statements that don’t differentiate the organizations, or “accidental” values that just happened over time.

Stephen P. (Steve) Czerniak

About the author: Mr. Czerniak retired after a successful career that culminated in fifteen years of experience as an internal consultant and “change agent.” He is currently an Executive-in-Residence at the Macomb-Oakland University INCubator and a volunteer with the Troy Historic Village and Historical Society.

References: 1) Pearce II, R.A., Robinson Jr., R.B., (2005) Strategic Management. Formulation, Implementation and Control. McGraw Hill Irwin. 9th Edition. 2) Lencioni, P.M. (2012) The Advantage: Why organizational health trumps everything else in business. Jossey-Bass; A Wiley Imprint. San Francisco, CA

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