Vision vs. Mission Statement – Anatomy & Key Differences
[Emphasis on Engineering & Manufacturing Businesses]
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In today’s article we are going to explain the difference between vision and mission statements with examples focused on engineering and manufacturing companies.
The first thing to understand about vision and mission statements is that they are one or two liner sentences published on a company’s website and printed in its annual reports and other publications circulated in media and public.
Vision comes above the mission statement in the sense that vision is defined first and mission is decided in line with the mission.
Vision statement expresses what type of future does the company want to create for itself and for the world? It talks about the world the organization wants to see or how it wants to see itself in future. It talks about the change that the organization wants to see in the world or the position it wants to hold for itself. The way mission statements are phrased is such that they are describing a future state of the company or a future state of the world.
Mission statement, on the other hand, expresses what the company specifically want to do in a relatively niche context? Mission statements are phrased so as to express action, objective or a daring doable. Mission is more about a drive and action(s) that the organization believes lies at the core of its value system.
Let us give examples of Vision and Mission statements of some engineering and manufacturing organizations for clarity below,
Vision: “Create the most compelling car company of the 21st century by driving the world’s transition to electric vehicles.”
Mission: “To accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass-market electric cars to market as soon as possible.”
Notice how Tesla’s vision statement describes the future place Tesla wants to hold in the world i.e., “most compelling car company of the 21st century” while at the same time expresses the future that Tesla wants to see in the world i.e., “world’s transition to electric vehicles”.
On the other hand, Tesla’s mission statement expresses an action in a niche context. It expresses how Tesla doesn’t want to bring just any electric car into the market but “compelling mass-market electric cars”. There is also an element of urgency expressed as “as soon as possible”.
In short, the vision statement of Tesla talks about where Tesla sees itself in future as well as what future Tesla envisions for the world. On the other hand, mission statement of Tesla comes one step down from the vision and talks about a specific action that Tesla is taking in its niche market to realize its vision.
Vision: “To make the best products on earth and to leave the world better than we found it”
Mission: “Bringing the best user experience to its customers through innovative hardware, software and services.”
Notice how Apple’s vision statement expresses a future state of the world that Apple envisions i.e., “to leave the world better than we found it” and where Apple sees itself i.e., a company that makes the best products on earth.
It expresses how Apple doesn’t see itself strictly through lens of a smartphone and computer company but aspires to be a leader in all industries. However, it is too generic. Any company in the world can have that vision statement. This is where the mission statement comes in.
Its mission statement talks in a niche context when it mentions “user experience” and “innovative hardware, software and services”. It expresses the type of company Apple is i.e., a technology company.
In short, Apple’s vision statement is broad and generic while its mission statement has elements of specificness to its industry and niche market.
Vision: “To become the world’s premier digital industrial company.”
Mission: “To invent the next industrial era, to build, move, power and cure the world”
Notice how at first glance General Electric’s vision and mission statements also don’t carry as much of a stark difference as Apple and Tesla. However, a closer look at the anatomy of statements does reveal the difference.
Like Boeing (explained below), the main difference in its vision and mission statements is in how vision is more tilted towards expressing a future state of the company i.e., “world’s premier digital industrial company”.
On the other hand, its mission expresses an action (a daring one indeed) i.e., “to invent the next industrial era” and “to build, move, power and cure the world”.
The second part does address the niche markets when it talks about “move, power and cure” because General Electric has locomotives and jet engines that “move” the world. It also deals in power generation and renewable energy that “powers” the world. It also has its healthcare technology segment that “cures” the world.
Vision: “People working together as a global enterprise for aerospace industry leadership.”
Mission: “To connect, protect, explore, and inspire the world through aerospace innovation.”
Boeing’s vision and mission statements don’t have the same level of difference as in the Tesla and Apple statements examined above. In both statements, Boeing has included its niche market element i.e., “aerospace”.
Its mission statement can quite easily be replaced by its vision statement and vice versa without spotting any difference from the perspective of how one statement dives deeper into the niche area than the other.
However, the difference is spotted when we look at the way vision statement is phrased. It is expressing a future state of Boeing while the mission statement is expressing an action (a daring doable).
Vision of a company talks about a big and broad idea (generally a future state of the company or the world or both). On the other hand, mission statement expresses an action, objective or a daring doable that generally contains some reference of company’s niche market.