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Purpose, vision, mission, and values — here’s how they all work together

An organization’s guiding principles provide the foundation for how the organization behaves — from how it acts to how it speaks to how it makes decisions.

Needless to say, that makes these principles critically important. Yet the majority of the iterations of these principles that I have seen are convoluted at best. Too often, they are some crazy mash-up — a little bit of vision, a dash of mission, and a few values sprinkled throughout for good measure.

This is why, when asked, most will say, “Sure we have a mission. It’s in a frame in the conference room. I can’t remember exactly what it says.”

Again, these are the principles that are intended to inform our every move. Yet, most of them fail to stick. And only a rare few go on to actually inspire us.

We have the opportunity to get these right. To create something that actually inspires everyone. The first step is to understand the role of each of these guiding principles. Here is something that will help.

(Excerpted from the book Big Audacious Meaning — Unleashing Your Purpose Driven Story.)

Vision and mission statements are an important part of how organizations articulate what they’re all about. They act as inward-facing guideposts, providing the ‘what’ and ‘how’ to steer our efforts.

But understand the mission’s role in relation to the purpose. Here is the hierarchy:

  • The Big Audacious Meaning (purpose) — this is why we exist. It is the impact we will have on a life, a community, or even the world.
  • The vision — this is what we hope to achieve that will help create that Big Audacious Meaning
  • The mission — this is how we will achieve our vision
  • The values — these are the principles that will guide us as we pursue our mission.

It’s important to note that the Big Audacious Meaning sits above our vision, mission, and values.

If we treat it this way, we’ll energize everyone from our team members to our prospects. We’ll turn the mildly interested into the rabidly passionate. But we have to understand the dynamic. It’s as simple as this: a mission statement is how we aspire. A Big Audacious Meaning is how we inspire.

Dan is an expert brand strategist and author of the book Big Audacious Meaning — Unleashing Your Purpose-Driven Story. He is a founder at Will & Grail — a brand innovation company, helping organizations find their unique, undeniable and unshakable sense of purpose and create innovative experiences that bring it to life.

Originally published at https://www.dansalva.com on May 14, 2020.

Written by

Dan is an expert brand strategist and author of the book Big Audacious Meaning — Unleashing Your Purpose-Driven Story. He is a founder at Will & Grail.

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