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Vision, Mission and Strategy

by Dr. M Marie Sanders


The Human Resource function has undergone tremendous change over the past 20+ years. In the past, organizations looked to the "Personnel Department," mostly to manage the paperwork around hiring and paying people. Unfortunately, many companies continue this practice today leaving HR leadership and management out of the strategic planning process of the company, the result being a disjointed and dysfunctional organization.

Recently, organizations have begun to consider HR managers key players in developing and executing organizational strategy. In order for HR mangers to fulfill their role, they must understand the mission, vision and strategic plan of the company. And, if possible, participate in the creation of the mission, vision and strategic plan. In order to do so, HR managers must have a clear understanding of each of these important iteMs


Vision Statements

A vision statement is a "mental image" of a possible and desirable future state for the organization, and articulates a view of a realistic, credible, attractive future of the organization that is better than what now exists.

Vision statements include words such as:

For example:
"I will build a motor car for the multitude. It shall be large enough for the family, but small enough for the unskilled individual to operate easily and care for, and it shall be light in weight and it may be economical in maintenance. It will be built of honest materials, by the best workmen that money can hire, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it shall be so low in price that the man of moderate means may own one and enjoy with his family the blessings of happy hours spent in God's great open spaces." (Henry Ford, 1903)

Breaking down Henry Ford's vision statement reveals:

"I / we will build"
What?"a motor car"
For whom?"for the multitude"

"large enough for the family but small enough for an unskilled individual to operate and care for"

"light in weight"

"may be economical in maintenance"
(interesting that he chose may be rather than will be)

"low price"

Why he is building it (emotional punch)"so that a man of moderate means may own one and enjoy with his family the blessings of happy hours spent in God's great open spaces."

Why is a vision statement important?

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Mission Statements

A mission statement defines the organization's purpose and primary objectives. Mission statements are specific, short term statements that explain what the organization is supposed to be now, communicating:

It is important to note that if a mission statement that is too much of a stretch from the current reality it may be actually a vision statement.

Examples of mission statements are:

Mission statements anchor the organization. Great mission statements are engaging enough so that employees feel a calling to the mission because it is worthwhile.

Why is a mission statement important?

Strategic planning is an organization's process of defining its strategy, or direction, and making decisions on allocating its resources to pursue this strategy, including its capital and people.

A strategic plan identifies a course of action to get the company from where it is today (mission) to where it wants to be tomorrow (vision).

All HR decisions should be made that align with and carry out the organization's mission, vision and strategy. Failing to do so may result in:

To maximize the effectiveness of the organization's human resources make sure that a clear understanding of the organization's vision, mission and strategic plan exists and that all HR decisions are made within their scope.

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About the author

Dr. M Marie Sanders

Dr. M Marie Sanders (USA)

Ms. Sanders holds an MBA and a Doctorate and has 30+ years of business experience in privately held businesses and non-profit organizations. She was a professor for the University of Central Oklahoma teaching undergraduate and MBA classes in the college of business (Leadership and Human Resource Management) and holds real estate broker licenses in two U.S. states.


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