In undertaking the planning process, the vision and mission statements provide a foundation for everyone: customers, employees, vendors, and other stakeholders. Similar in purpose, these statements may even be combined into one statement. Both work to identify the purpose of the organization. The vision statement brings in values – how the organization is to act. Vision adds an external focus and provides customers a reason for doing business with you. The mission statement outlines the purpose of the organization: the key products, clients and markets, future direction and perhaps key benchmarks measuring the success of the organization.
Strategies become the work of the planning process. Consideration must be give to the critical issues facing the organization, both internal and external. One effective exercise is a “Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threat” listing. A “GAP analysis” of identifying the difference of where an organization is compared to where it wants to be, is another. Also, consider the product matrix and product life cycles. In identifying the critical issues, gather data to support issues to avoid generalizations. This data might include growth rates, market share, sales rates, profitability, cash flow, capital and productivity measurements. Then clearly identify the root cause of variations to form conclusions and identify strategies to overcome the issue.
Working on Vision, Mission and Strategies involves the entire organization. For smaller firms, bring in outsiders as well. Trusted advisors, bankers, lawyers, peer business associates are some resources to consider. These sessions require a facilitator, someone who can challenge, and ask questions and capture information brought forth by the group.