Defining Mission Vision ValuesOrganization(al) Mission and Values, and Vision, Goals and Objectives

… One of the frequent conversations I have with managers and leaders focuses on the use of the organization(al) terms mission  and values, and vision, goals and objectives. It seems – even after all these years with the training, instructing, coaching and instructing – there is still confusion about what these terms mean.

Background for Mission and Values

When serving as legacy mentor to grandparents who are executives and entrepreneurs we define important terms and concepts like mission and values for our dialogue. And as we move to different topics, we define the new terms and concepts.

We do so to ensure clarification from consistency. Because when we both agree to the terms and concepts we have a touchstone to use to clarify our path forward.

By extension … the same is true when the mentees manage and lead their employees, volunteers, customers and clients.
Grandparents Note

And the same ideas can be carried over to grand-parenting. When grandparents gain insight into the meaning of the words their grandchild are using to describe and explain shared activities, the grandparents can frame better experiences with their grandchildren. 

Having made this connection between managing-leading at work and grand-parenting, the focus of this article is managing and leading employees, volunteers and customers. That written, grandparents who are managers/leaders do not discount the wisdom you’re about to read. Enjoy!


Early in my career, and especially when I worked internationally as a manager-leader, I learned the importance of defining terms and concepts. And thereafter, agreeing to those terms and concepts.

Doing so would contribute to our mutual understanding of what’s before us. And as a result it would contribute to the effectiveness/relevance measures and productivity metrics with my staff (and volunteers).

If we jumped into making the map/plan from which to action the work, it would often happen the conversation returns to defining the terms and concepts.

Tree Branch Bookshelf Huffington PostToday, I chuckle with each consulting contract. I have to guide my clients back to their definition of the terms and concepts they’re using. Which means, I’m getting paid to do something they could do easily.

From the ensuing conversations of why they had forgotten and/or ignored defining and agreeing on the terms and concepts is best captured in the forest and trees story. They got lost in what they were doing. They went tactical to operational at the blink of an eye assuming they agreed on the terms and concepts, rather than confirming the terms and concepts from a strategic to tactical perspective. The few minutes at the beginning of meetings or the 20 minutes at the start of a new project to define the terms and concepts can save time, effort and money later.

Mandela Quote Head and HeartMeaning of the Terms 

At minimum, frequently visit the following terms with your groups and teams. As a result, you ensure clarification from consistency. And it’s a great reminder of concepts you’re asking everybody to use in their organization of work re: communication from commitment.

With people moving in and out of your groups and teams, conversations adjust the definition of the terms and concepts. Take to the time to ensure clarity.

And, make sure you define the terms and concepts and gain agreement when working across groups and teams. To do so lessens the distress.

Let’s start with mission and values:

Define MissionMission expresses the reason for the organization to exist. In other words, there is something missing in the community, country, the world.

The mission highlights the organization’s contribution in filling the gap via the organization framework it operates – business, charitable, government, etc.

In addition, the mission highlights the strategic outcomes and directional story of the future organization(al) work helpful to customers and clients, and employees and volunteers.

The mission statement and story is primarily for external use.

Define ValuesValues express the organizational agreement about statements of worth, truth and usefulness to ethically action.

Organization(al) values serve as guideposts or boundary touch-points for managers-leaders to manage and lead their staff, volunteers and customers. Equally, values guide individuals’ decisions as to their organization of work and performance.

With a values framework in place you have the ways and means to celebrate daily actions. And thereafter, initiate your rewards and recognition program for engagement and retention.

A practical mission and values example … Coca-Cola

Now let’s look at the combination of vision, goals and objectives.

Define VisionVision expresses the 1-2 year directional story from which the organization will operate internally. It’s the story used to manage and lead the employees, vendors, contractors, customers, clients, etc.

It presents the Big Adventurous Goals the organization will concentrate its workforce in offering its products, services and/or experiences.  At a high level it frames the learning, decisions and actions for the outcomes required.

The vision statement and story is primarily for internal use.

Define GoalsGoal expresses a detailed description/explanation of what is required or involved to accomplish the vision.

The goal highlights what you will have as an outcome by the stated timeline, assigned accountability and resource allocation. A goal details what you are working from at a strategic-tactical level.

The goal is statement managers-leaders use to translate the vision with those they manage and lead.

Define ObjectivesObjective expresses a specific statement of what is required or involved to achieve the goal.  

The objective highlights what you will do by the stated timeline, responsibilities and resource allocation. An objective details what you are working towards at a tactical-operational level.

The objective is a statement managers-leaders use to interpret the goal from those they manage and lead.

Possible Metaphoric Images for Goals and Objectives:

Goals are the treasure at the top of a stairway, and the objectives are the stairs
Objectives are the tools you use to make sure you reach your goals
Objectives are the arrow’s you shoot towards your target (goal) 

A possible resource to read re: writing mission and values, and vision statements/stories:

With Reference to the Brackets in Organization(al)

The Define Organization(al)term organization refers to (a) a legal entity called an organization and (b) the act of organizing.

Therefore, the term organizational suggests the organization owns something whereas organization suggests the work systems and processes.

When organization(al) is used it suggests the combined reference to ownership and systems.

However, given my preference I would use organizational and organization as in:

Organizational mission and organization culture.
The organization owns its mission.
The organization does not own its culture. 

I’m sharing this clarification for your insight and possible agreement.

Legacy is for giving. It’s in you to share!

Make it a wellthy day,

Legacy signature Stephen Hobbs

Moving Forward Together

Here is an invitation to download and read the free 21-page book:

WELLth Movement:

Guide 55-75 year young executives, employees and entrepreneurs who are grandparents
_in the use of ecological literacy concepts and practices
__to eco-create the well-living world by
___creating well-living workplaces with the involvement of their staff, volunteers and/or customers, and
___living their great lives with the involvement of their grandchildren in outdoor activities with trees

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Dr. Stephen Hobbs

Writer - Walk with Nature as My Educator
- Share the Legacy I Intend to Live

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