The MBET Experience

The University of Waterloo – Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology Program

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Mission, Values, Vision, Strategy

July 20th, 2007 · No Comments

Mission statements. Core values. Corporate Vision. Strategy. To many employees stuck in their cubby-hole cubicles, the announcement of a new “Mission Statement” or a change in “Core Values” means that top executives just spent a small fortune on consultants and a weekend retreat to come up with some Dilbert-esqe corporate drivel that doesn’t change one thing in the way the company operates.

This term in the MBET program, we have spend a lot of time looking at how to build and grow a company. Despite the fact that MBET is not a traditional MBA program, it is still a graduate-level business program, so we have spent a lot of time in a number of classes talking about Mission, Values, Vision and Strategy. What I’ve realized is that these are critical issues for any organization – the decisions made regarding these items drive all other decisions throughout the organization. I’m going to share some of the things we’ve chatted about regarding each of these items.

Mission: The “Mission” for an organization is “Why do we exist?” Outside of making money, what are you trying to accomplish?

Values: “Core Values” answer the question: “What do we stand for?” These are the underlying principles that should never change.

Vision: A vision is “What do we what to be”, or “Where do we want to go?”

Strategy: Strategy answers “How do we do all this?” It provides the roadmap for how to accomplish the mission and vision laid out for the organization.

Despite the ineffectiveness of many corporate mission, vision and values statements, from a management perspective, they are critical to the organization. These tools set the guiding light for the organization, and define what the organization will do, and as importantly, what an organization will NOT do.

The best analogy I heard for thinking of these items is that of going on a trip:

  • Mission: What are we doing? Going on an awesome vacation!
  • Values: What do we stand for? Exciting week away!
  • Vision: Where are we going? We’re going to Disneyland!
  • Strategy: How are we going to get there? On a plane!

Why are these things important? Well, think about what happens if the values are different – one person wants a quiet, relaxing week on the beach, and the other wants roller coasters and nightclubs. Or vision – one person packs for week on the ski slopes, the other packs for the beach. Just like in an organization, for the trip to be a success, everyone has to share the same mission, values, vision and strategy.

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