The very first standard in the HQAA Accreditation Standards is ORG 1 MISSION & VISION. The “mission & vision” standard is the first standard for a reason: the mission and vision set the tone for your organization’s corporate culture and define who you are and why you exist. They represent not only what your organization does, but why it does it. The “how it does it” will come later with the various policies & procedures, but this first standard talks about something more basic and philosophical.
So, what are “mission” and “vision” and what’s the difference? Furthermore, why are they imbedded into accreditation standards?
First off, let’s look at the actual standard:
Org 1 -- Mission and Vision
The organization has a mission/vision statement that describes the organization’s current focus and future goals. The organization reviews this statement annually.
HQAA expects you to enshrine both mission and vision into policy, publish it within your organization, and orient your employees to it at hire. In the workroom, prior to accreditation, you will be prompted to submit copies of both mission and vision for review by coaches. During survey, the surveyor will look to see that the mission and vision are implemented; that is, that staff are aware and your organization is “living the mission and vision” in the workplace. It’s a core component of your business and thus a core component of the survey/accreditation process.
Your company’s mission statement should (as one business leader expressed it) “express your organization’s purpose, primary focus, and core values”. It serves as a guideline to your staff, customers, and anybody else who reads it as to why your company exists. A great, relatable example of this is Google’s mission statement: “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. Think about it: this simple and succinct statement captures the essence of why Google exists in one sentence.
Your company’s vision statement should be an aspirational statement about your strategic goals. A business leader once described it as “your company’s roadmap for future plans”. Again, looking to Google for an example, their vision is to “provide an important service to the world by instantly delivering relevant information on virtually any topic”.
Mission and vision statements both serve similar roles in developing a brand, starting a company, and marketing concepts, services, and products. However, they are different. While mission statements summarize primary purposes and focus, vision statements integrate values (mission) into an action plan. Together, they form the framework for your company.
The major benefits to developing and articulating mission and vision statements include:
- Provides a foundation that guides all business practices from daily operations to strategic planning
- Attracts employees whose values align with yours
- Proven to reduce employee turnover when employees understand the corporate mission and vision
- Attracts customers whose values align with yours
- Continuously motivates the team (employees)
- Keeps your organization “on track” when doing any kind of forward-thinking strategic planning or making decisions about new products and services.
Any organization in any industry should develop their mission and vision statement very early on in the business planning process. Many organizations use their mission/vision to guide establishing the business, only to set them aside and forget about them once the business is up and running. What organizations should do is develop their mission and vision statements up front, use them to form their company and establish corporate culture, publish them within the company’s policies and procedures, and remind staff, management, and owners and/or board of directors constantly about them.
The mission and vision statements are often posted in a prominent place in the workplace, where both employees and customers will see them. They can be reinforced on marketing materials. Some organizations even have them on their business cards and marketing brochures. These important statements are a declaration of the company’s most fundamental and basic values. All staff should have a basic understanding of the concepts and be prepared to discuss how they “live the mission” in their work.
Incorporated into daily operations and well understood by staff and management, mission and vision should be a mantra by which the business lives.