In part 2 of this playbook, we will explain how purpose, vision, mission, strategy, and roadmap are connected to each other and how each of these can be utilized to guide in the next phase, from highly strategic to more tactical steps.
Specifically, mission and vision are oftentimes used interchangeably: Find 5 different sources and they will come up with 7 different definitions 😖. To give a particularly poor example:
So, according to this Wikipedia article, a mission statement is short and crisp — yet describes all the details including purpose, operations, details about customers, markets, geographies, and even competitive advantages. We believe this is just totally confusing and, hence, fails to act as a guide in understanding and creating all these pillars.
Instead, in the following chapters of this playbook, we will assume a framework where:
where they don’t even talk about the company itself but rather about how the world will look like once they have succeeded. To illustrate, consider the following popular quote and see how it replaces the assignment of specific tasks with an overarching goal:
In other words:
The vision is the foundation for all subsequent steps, for defining the product mission and strategy as well as deriving areas to work on, as we shall see in the following. It is essential that the vision statement, when used externally with customers, is consistent with the behavior of the company.
Some may argue that a vision statement should be bold enough to serve for a lifetime, but at least it should express a long-term goal, so be valid for more than a decade.
A vision statement that isn’t known by employees is rather useless. Once it has been created, it is crucial that it’s clearly and repeatedly communicated across the entire organization and beyond. In fact, we believe that any major product meeting, such as planning events or reviews, should be started with the vision, mission, and strategy to reinforce its importance and maintain visibility.
Beyond meetings, visual reminders also help: screensavers, posters, or digital displays prominently placed in common areas will serve as constant reminders and reinforce the vision in the daily work environment so that employees stay connected to long-term goals.
Most importantly, a vision statement shouldn’t be talking about the company itself: how the company will become successful, be a market leader, beat the competition, or make a ton of revenue. None of these internal aspects should be part of the vision. Instead, the focus shall be purely on the impact on the outside world, on how the lives of users will improve, or how a major problem of mankind will be solved.
Also, a mission statement shall not include any details — be it on execution, timeline, internal organization, or else. See the quote from Wikipedia at the beginning of this chapter as a rather bad example.
In the following, we will comment on some more or less great examples of vision statements (even though some of these companies list these as mission statements — confirming the confusion mentioned in the introduction of this chapter). Sometimes, companies leave out visions and start with the mission right away. It seems like this is often the case when they are not so much looking into a bright new future but focusing on what they can deliver today already — see McDonald’s, for example:
While it had been updated recently, this originally was a great vision, purely looking at how customers feel. Note how it covers all kinds of entertainment, from animations to movies to amusement parks.
Another great vision, maybe a bit broad, far beyond home furnishing, so details will be needed when narrowing down toward the mission and strategy level.
Clearly mentioning the target group and how they shall benefit without limiting to a social network.
Well, this probably depends on personal taste…😉
Note how this doesn’t speak about Windows or Office 365, or even software at all. Just like the IKEA example above, it’s fairly broad so will need more details later on.
By way of a footnote that declares every human with a body as an athlete, the vision actually focuses on the activity rather than just professional athletes.
Even without knowing them, one can imagine it’s all about fashion, jewelry, and cosmetics.
A perfect and noble example of a highly inspirational vision statement.
A clear focus on improving everybody’s life around (e-)commerce.
Hmmm 🤔. Why start with “we” instead of the benefits for clients?
Who would imagine this to be business software and ERP? Sounds more like a competitor to Nike and Adidas?
OK, just 2 words about the customers. The rest is about the company.
Maybe a good vision statement. The question is, however, whether business practice keeps up to that promise.
Connecting the dots between vision, mission, objectives, and principles through The Decision Stack is the best way to align your business and enhance the autonomy of your product teams by giving agency to everyone to make better decisions, faster.