Lesson 1, Topic 1
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1.2 Role mission and vision statements in strategic management process


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Components of a Strategy Statement

The strategy statement of a firm sets the firm’s long-term strategic direction and broad policy directions. It gives the firm a clear sense of direction and a blueprint for the firm’s activities for the upcoming years. The main constituents of a strategic statement are as follows:

1.     Strategic Intent

An organization’s strategic intent is the purpose that it exists and why it will continue to exist, providing it maintains a competitive advantage. Strategic intent gives a picture about what an organization must get into immediately in order to achieve the company’s vision. It motivates the people. It clarifies the vision of the vision of the company.

Strategic intent helps management to emphasize and concentrate on the priorities. Strategic intent is, nothing but, the influencing of an organization’s resource potential and core competencies to achieve what at first may seem to be unachievable goals in the competitive environment. A well expressed strategic intent should guide/steer the development of strategic intent or the setting of goals and objectives that require that all of organization’s competencies be controlled to maximum value.

Strategic intent includes directing organization’s attention on the need of winning; inspiring people by telling them that the targets are valuable; encouraging individual and team participation as well as contribution; and utilizing intent to direct allocation of resources.

Strategic intent differs from strategic fit in a way that while strategic fit deals with harmonizing available resources and potentials to the external environment, strategic intent emphasizes on building new resources and potentials so as to create and exploit future opportunities.

2.     Mission Statement

Mission statement is the statement of the role by which an organization intends to serve it’s stakeholders. It describes why an organization is operating and thus provides a framework within which strategies are formulated. It describes what the organization does (i.e., present capabilities), who all it serves (i.e., stakeholders) and what makes an organization unique (i.e., reason for existence).

A mission statement differentiates an organization from others by explaining its broad scope of activities, its products, and technologies it uses to achieve its goals and objectives. It talks about an organization’s present (i.e., “about where we are”). For instance, Microsoft’s mission is to help people and businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential. Wal-Mart’s mission is “To give ordinary folk the chance to buy the same thing as rich people.” Mission statements always exist at top level of an organization, but may also be made for various organizational levels. Chief executive plays a significant role in formulation of mission statement. Once the mission statement is formulated, it serves the organization in long run, but it may become ambiguous with organizational growth and innovations.

In today’s dynamic and competitive environment, mission may need to be redefined. However, care must be taken that the redefined mission statement should have original fundamentals/components. Mission statement has three main components-a statement of mission or vision of the company, a statement of the core values that shape the acts and behaviour of the employees, and a statement of the goals and objectives.

Features of a Mission

  1. Mission must be feasible and attainable. It should be possible to achieve it.
  2. Mission should be clear enough so that any action can be taken.
  3. It should be inspiring for the management, staff and society at large.
  4. It should be precise enough, i.e., it should be neither too broad nor too narrow.
  5. It should be unique and distinctive to leave an impact in everyone’s mind.
  6. It should be analytical, i.e., it should analyse the key components of the strategy.
  7. It should be credible, i.e., all stakeholders should be able to believe it.

3.     Vision

A vision statement identifies where the organization wants or intends to be in future or where it should be to best meet the needs of the stakeholders. It describes dreams and aspirations for future. For instance, Microsoft’s vision is “to empower people through great software, any time, any place, or any device.” Wal-Mart’s vision is to become worldwide leader in retailing.

A vision is the potential to view things ahead of themselves. It answers the question “where we want to be”. It gives us a reminder about what we attempt to develop. A vision statement is for the organization and its members, unlike the mission statement which is for the customers/clients. It contributes in effective decision making as well as effective business planning. It incorporates a shared understanding about the nature and aim of the organization and utilizes this understanding to direct and guide the organization towards a better purpose. It describes that on achieving the mission, how the organizational future would appear to be.

An effective vision statement must have following features:-

  1. It must be unambiguous.
  2. It must be clear.
  3. It must harmonize with organization’s culture and values.
  4. The dreams and aspirations must be rational/realistic.
  5. Vision statements should be shorter so that they are easier to memorize.

In order to realize the vision, it must be deeply instilled in the organization, being owned and shared by everyone involved in the organization.

4.     Goals and Objectives

A goal is a desired future state or objective that an organization tries to achieve. Goals specify in particular what must be done if an organization is to attain mission or vision. Goals make mission more prominent and concrete. They co-ordinate and integrate various functional and departmental areas in an organization. Well-made goals have following features-

  1. These are precise and measurable.
  2. These look after critical and significant issues.
  3. These are realistic and challenging.
  4. These must be achieved within a specific time frame.
  5. These include both financial as well as non-financial components.

Objectives are defined as goals that organization wants to achieve over a period of time. These are the foundation of planning. Policies are developed in an organization so as to achieve these objectives. Formulation of objectives is the task of top level management. Effective objectives have following features:-

  1. These are not single for an organization, but multiple.
  2. Objectives should be both short-term as well as long-term.
  3. Objectives must respond and react to changes in environment, i.e., they must be flexible.
  4. These must be feasible, realistic and operational.

Importance of Vision and Mission Statements

One of the first things that any observer of management thought and practice asks is whether a particular organization has a vision and mission statement. In addition, one of the first things that one learns in a business is the importance of vision and mission statements.

The reasons why vision and mission statements are important and the benefits that such statements provide to the organizations. It has been found in studies that organizations that have lucid, coherent, and meaningful vision and mission statements return more than double the numbers in shareholder benefits when compared to the organizations that do not have vision and mission statements. Indeed, the importance of vision and mission statements is such that it is the first thing that is discussed in management textbooks on strategy.

Some of the benefits of having a vision and mission statement are discussed below:

  • Above everything else, vision and mission statements provide unanimity of purpose to organizations and imbue the employees with a sense of belonging and identity. Indeed, vision and mission statements are embodiments of organizational identity and carry the organizations creed and motto. For this purpose, they are also called as statements of creed.
  • Vision and mission statements spell out the context in which the organization operates and provides the employees with a tone that is to be followed in the organizational climate. Since they define the reason for existence of the organization, they are indicators of the direction in which the organization must move to actualize the goals in the vision and mission statements.
  • The vision and mission statements serve as focal points for individuals to identify themselves with the organizational processes and to give them a sense of direction while at the same time deterring those who do not wish to follow them from participating in the organization’s activities.
  • The vision and mission statements help to translate the objectives of the organization into work structures and to assign tasks to the elements in the organization that are responsible for actualizing them in practice.
  • To specify the core structure on which the organizational edifice stands and to help in the translation of objectives into actionable cost, performance, and time related measures.
  • Finally, vision and mission statements provide a philosophy of existence to the employees, which is very crucial because as humans, we need meaning from the work to do and the vision and mission statements provide the necessary meaning for working in a particular organization.

As can be seen from the above, articulate, coherent, and meaningful vision and mission statements go a long way in setting the base performance and actionable parameters and embody the spirit of the organization. In other words, vision and mission statements are as important as the various identities that individuals have in their everyday lives.

It is for this reason that organizations spend a lot of time in defining their vision and mission statements and ensure that they come up with statements that provide meaning instead of being mere sentences that are devoid of any meaning.

Self-Check Activity

  1. Explain the importance of ethics in business.

  2. Discuss the Components of a Strategy Statement.