There’s a difference: mission v. vision

Sections of this topic

    Two critical components of the Drivers Model are the mission and the vision. When it comes to strategy, do you know the difference between the two? (And, yes, there is a difference!)


    How we at Leadership Strategies define “mission”:

    Definition Example (Meeting Planners Association)
    Mission A statement of the overall purpose of an organization which describes what you do, for whom you do it and the benefit. To provide a forum for furthering the growth and professionalism of the meetings industry.

    A mission statement answers three simple questions:

    1. What do you do?
    2. For whom do you do it?
    3. What is the benefit?

    The mission statement above illustrates an excellent example of how a mission statement can answer the three questions in a succinct form.

    1. What do they do? Provide a forum.
    2. What’s the benefit? Furthering growth and professionalism.
    3. Who benefits? The meetings industry.


    Now, let’s contrast the difference between a mission statement and a vision statement.

    Definition Example (Meeting Planners Association)
    Vision A picture of the “preferred future”; a statement that describes how the future will look if the organization fulfills its mission. To be the place where meeting planners meet.

    While a mission explains the overall purpose of the organization – what you do, for whom you do it and the benefit – a vision statement gives the picture of the preferred future. A vision statement answers the question, “If the organization fulfills its mission, what will the future look like?” In other words, the vision is a a statement that describes how the future will look if the organization meets its mission.

    So, now that you understand the difference between the mission and the vision, you can appreciate why these two terms are not interchangeable.


    Certified Master Facilitator Michael Wilkinson is the CEO and Managing Director of Leadership Strategies, Inc., The Facilitation Company and author of the new The Secrets of Facilitation 2nd Edition, The Secrets to Masterful Meetings, and The Executive Guide to Facilitating Strategy. Leadership Strategies is a global leader in facilitation services, providing companies with dynamic professional facilitators who lead executive teams and task forces in areas like strategic planning, issue resolution, process improvement and others. The company is also a leading provider of facilitation training in the United States.