Writing a Mission and Vision Statement (Part 1)

Over the past few years as I’ve taken steps to grow my career, I came across the Mind Tools website.  Today, a quick google search for structure on Mission and Vision Statements brought me to this article here.  Much of the content of the article will be copied and pasted into my blog post below.

As I read through this article, I find it amusing that the business used as an example is a small business called “Farm Fresh Produce.”  Ironic?  Significant?  We’ll wax philosophical on this another time.  For now, we’ll simply acknowledge it as amusing and continue moving forward.

Vision Statements and Mission Statements are the inspiring words chosen by successful leaders to clearly and concisely convey the direction of the organization. By crafting a clear mission statement and vision statement, you can powerfully communicate your intentions and motivate your team or organization to realize an attractive and inspiring common vision of the future.

“Mission Statements” and “Vision Statements” do two distinctly different jobs.

A Mission Statement defines the organization’s purpose and primary objectives. Its prime function is internal – to define the key measure or measures of the organization’s success – and its prime audience is the leadership team and stockholders.

Vision Statements also define the organizations purpose, but this time they do so in terms of the organization’s values rather than bottom line measures (values are guiding beliefs about how things should be done.) The vision statement communicates both the purpose and values of the organization. For employees, it gives direction about how they are expected to behave and inspires them to give their best. Shared with customers, it shapes customers’ understanding of why they should work with the organization.

Tip:
Mission Statements and Vision Statements usually refer to an organization or an organizational unit. Team Charters can have a similar role when briefing teams.

First we look at creating mission statements. Then we create vision statements.

Ok…this is important for me.   Right now, I’m getting hung up in all the details about all of this nonsense so I’m going to simply follow the steps outlined below.  This should help me take the family farm idea and further refine it into how my parents dreams align with my own dreams…

Mission Statement Creation

  • To create your mission statement, first identify your organization’s “winning idea”.
  • This is the idea or approach that will make your organization stand out from its competitors, and is the reason that customers will come to you and not your competitors (see tip below).  
  • Next identify the key measures of your success. Make sure you choose the most important measures (and not too many of them!)  
  • Combine your winning idea and success measures into a tangible and measurable goal.  
  • Refine the words until you have a concise and precise statement of your mission, which expresses your ideas, measures and desired result.

Tip:
OK, so we’re a bit glib here talking about the “winning idea” – this is a prime subject of the discipline of business strategy, and it can take a lot of effort to find, shape and test. See our articles on USP Analysis, SWOT Analysis and Core Competence Analysis for starting points, and make sure you do the homework needed!
Example:
Take the example of a produce store whose winning idea is “farm freshness”. The owner identifies two keys measures of her success: freshness and customer satisfaction. She creates her mission statement – which is the action goal that combines the winning idea and measures of success.

The mission statement of Farm Fresh Produce is:

“To become the number one produce store in Main Street by selling the highest quality, freshest farm produce, from farm to customer in under 24 hours on 75% of our range and with 98% customer satisfaction.”

 

This example is perfect.  For me…my family is working on the development of York Meadow Farm.  Our operation is in it’s infancy and over the past couple of years, we have come up with our very own little “statement.”  While this may not have been the original objective, when I actively started managing York Meadow Farm’s facebook page, perhaps this was what I was thinking.  I suppose I’m always trying to stay ahead of the game.  Maybe I have my shit together more than I think I do…this is almost frightening.  I’m trying.

When you visit the “About” section of the York Meadow Farm facebook page, you read:

York Meadow Farm.

Nourishing you on the inside and outside.

Growing food for your body and mind.

Educate, Nourish, Healthy.

 

I remember working with my mom on the development of this simple statement.  As I write all this out and continue reading about Mission Statements vs Vision Statements, it appears as though the above statements might have come close to nailing it for a Mission Statement.  The education aspect of York Meadow Farm was the big driver as we would sit around and dream about WHY we were so stoked on the idea of a family farm.

This all ties in with my own goals and risks which revolve around the family farm.  While I think that my own personal goals can be met while I work with my family in order to help them achieve theirs, the reality is that I’m not sure they have taken the time to determine what their goals are with regard to the family farm.  I understand that they want to use the farm in order to turn a profit…but there seems to be a lack of direction.

This “direction” is where I feel as though I fit into the family farm equation.  With previous project management experience, I feel as though our family farm would run and operate a little bit more efficiently if there was a “project manager” in a sense.  However, the reality is that while I am confident that I can help my family run their farm in a more efficient and effective manner, I also want to ensure that I am not stepping on anyone’s toes during the process.

Watching my parents grow York Meadow Farm over the past few years and having a desire to help them achieve and live their dreams would not only help them develop and succeed with accomplishing their dreams…but it could also provide me with the opportunity to live out my own dreams of homesteading.   The only difference is that instead of finding a parcel of land to lease and drafting a proposal to the property owner…I’ve already found the property owner.  The drafting of a proposal for the land lease is really just a formality that I will follow through with as part of the documentation process for the education and knowledge sharing process.

The original questions posted to me by my fellow #starters with regard to my homestead dreams were:

  • WHY are you going to homestead?
  • HOW are you going to homestead?

These two questions were posed to me as part of determining the Mission and Vision statements for my dream.  As you can see from the lengthy post thus far, I have an incredible ability to over complicate things…so I’m going to try hard to keep this simple.

The article has us identifying our Mission Statement first.

I struggled with this for a while.  I found that I was doing a great job of confusing the Mission Statement with the Vision statement.  To assist with the clarification of these two ideas, I found myself watching this video:

Now, back to the Mind Tools article.  In order to keep my thoughts as organized as possible, I find that I will be reiterating much of this material twice throughout this blog post.  For me, this is necessary due to the level of confusion that I was experiencing (creating) with mission vs. vision vs. mission statements.  Now that we’ve cleared that up, the article suggests that to “create your mission statement, first identify your organization’s “winning idea”.  This is the idea or approach that will make your organization stand out from its competitors, and is the reason that customers will come to you and not your competitors (see tip below).”

My “organization” is York Meadow Farm.  If you don’t have a family farm or an organization that you can simply “fall” into like I seem to have…then my suggestion is that you simply create one.  Hell, that’s really all that we have done over the past five years…there was nothing on this land when my parents purchased it years ago.  All the plants and everything that has been done with it to date has in effect been done with their own hands.  It’s not complicated…it simply takes time, persistence and dedication.  Our “winning idea” is education.

Again, back to the article…Next identify the key measures of your success. Make sure you choose the most important measures (and not too many of them!)  Combine your winning idea and success measures into a tangible and measurable goal.  Refine the words until you have a concise and precise statement of your mission, which expresses your ideas, measures and desired result.”

Hmm…this is where I seem to gum up the works and make things a little complicated.  The example of the mission statement in the article does this very well.  Not only do they have the “winning idea” of being the number one produce storebut they also make their goal tangible and measureable by putting time frames (24 hours) and targets (98% customer satisfaction) in place.

While I think that this is certainly a good thing to do…the reality is that this is not my farm.   It is our farm, but more importantly it is my parent’s farm and I want to respect that.  They worked hard to buy the land to live this dream.  While I think I can contribute to the dream I believe they want to see come to fruition, this is simply my perception of what I believe their dream is.  Until I get back there and can begin working more intensively with them on their dream…I believe the best thing I can do is focus on MY dream – the dream of a little homestead.  A successful homestead on a personal level will allow me to best help them achieve their dreams…and we will work together as a family to determine what those dreams are.  For now…I need to focus on myself and what my dreams are.

With that said…this kind of brings me back full circle to the initial goal/risk that has me writing out this insane rant of a blog post in the first place!  The whole point of this crazy ass blog post was the development of a mission and vision statement for Round 2 of The Start Experiment…and apparently the process that I am experiencing as I try to make this happen.  This process has pointed out that during the pursuit of writing my own statements, I am working with a landowner and a farmer who has a mission statement of their own.

What they apparently are lacking is the vision (HOW) to carry that out.  Part of my own personal Mission and Vision plans will likely help my parents determine and/or refine their vision.  At any rate…when I first began writing out what my own personal mission statement for my homestead dream was…this is what I came up with:

To become a leader in the self-reliance and sustainability movement in Northeast Ohio (by freely sharing knowledge gained by the implementation of permaculture design principles into my future homestead.)

After writing this out…I realized that my statement not only included the “WHY” but it also began to get to the “HOW.”  After thinking about this…perhaps I was missing the mark.  Let’s break that statement down even further…

  • WHY are you going to homestead?

To become a leader in the self-reliance and sustainability movement in Northeast Ohio.

This is a more simple and refined statement, but still isn’t quite where I want to be.  I’m not interested in homesteading because I’m interested in being a leader in the self-reliance and sustainability movement…I’m interested in homesteading because I think this is the most practical way to gain the required skills to life a self-reliant and sustainable lifestyle.  Being a leader in this movement is secondary.  Again, I must ask myself the question:

  • WHY are you going to homestead?

To begin learning the skill set necessary to lead a more self-reliant, independent and sustainable lifestyle.

Much better…I’m actually satisfied with this statement.  It is brief and to the point.  While the original example we looked at had “measurables” such as time frames (24 hours) and targets (98% customer satisfaction) which we identified earlier…the reality is that I think for the purposes of MY vision statement, I need to keep it a little more simple.  While I think that time frames and targets are important…I can always come back and refine this statement at a later date.

Next…I will focus on the creation of a Vision Statement.

Vision Statement Creation

  • Once you’ve created your mission statement, move on to create your vision statement:
  • First identify your organization’s mission. Then uncover the real, human value in that mission.  
  • Next, identify what you, your customers and other stakeholders will value most about how your organization will achieve this mission. Distill these into the values that your organization has or should have.  
  • Combine your mission and values, and polish the words until you have a vision statement inspiring enough to energize and motivate people inside and outside your organization.  
  • Using the example mission statement developed for Farm Fresh Produce, the owner examines what she, her customers and her employees value about her mission.  
  • The four most important things she identifies are: freshness, healthiness, tastiness and “local-ness” of the produce. Here’s the Vision Statement she creates and shares with employees, customers and farmers alike:

“We help the families of Main Town live happier and healthier lives by providing the freshest, tastiest and most nutritious local produce: From local farms to your table in under 24 hours.”

 

This is something that I’m going to have to return to write about.  Besides, we’re still in the early stages of Round 2 of The Start Experiment.  A big part of today was feeling as though I made some progress on my risk and goal this time.  I feel as though I’ve done that today.

Stay tuned.

4 thoughts on “Writing a Mission and Vision Statement (Part 1)

  1. Pingback: The First Day of the Rest of Your Life – Episode 0002 | The Nameless Wayfarer

  2. Pingback: Writing a Mission and Vision Statement (Part 2) | The Nameless Wayfarer

  3. Pingback: The First Day of the Rest of Your Life – Episode 0007 – “Bridging the Gap” | The Nameless Wayfarer

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