Purpose and Direction of the Firm

Whether for-profit or not-for-profit, a key issue within any organization is aligning the behavior of all members to serve the purpose of the organization. Mission defines this purpose in words that are commonly understandable; the mission defines why the organization exists. Vision creates a picture of what the firm wants to be in broad terms; where the firm is headed. Where mission is abstract and intangible, vision is concrete and tangible.

What Makes a Good Vision:[1]

  • Graphic – paints a picture
  • Directional – is forward looking
  • Focused – is specific enough to provide guidance in decision making and allocating resources
  • Flexible – not SO focused it makes it difficult to make mid-course adjustments based on dynamic circumstances
  • Feasible – within the realm of the company’s expertise and resources
  • Desirable – why the path makes good sense
  • Ease of Communication – can be explained in 5-10 minutes, memorable

Common Vision Shortcomings:

  • Vague or incomplete
  • Not forward looking
  • Too broad
  • Bland or uninspiring
  • Not distinctive
  • Too reliant on superlatives

  1. Based on Essentials of Strategic Management, 3e, 2012 by Gamble, Thompson, and Peteraf, pg 17.


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