Vision, Mission & Values: what are they and do we need them?

In our series of webinars, ‘Back to the Future of Work Again’, we talk about (re)defining how we should do HR as we head towards the post-pandemic recovery period.  When thinking about the changes that may need to be made, we ask how we can take our people with us on this challenging journey (sorry, I hate the “j-word” too!).  There are several opportunities for engaging with staff, one of which is to review and refresh your Company vision, mission and values or, if they don’t exist, create some – after all, now is surely the perfect time to reset our business and HR aspirations.


But what are they?  In a nutshell and without being too academic about it:


Vision: as you might expect, the vision sets out the future goals of the business by describing what it is ultimately trying to achieve.  A vision statement should be positive, inspiring and unchanging; even if the Company strategy changes from time to time, the long-term vision usually stays the same.


  • Costa Coffee: “To be the world’s most loved coffee brand…”
  • Amazon: “To be Earth’s most customer centric company…”
  • Marks & Spencer: “To be the standard against which others are measured.”


Mission: put simply, your mission is the organisation’s reason for being, its absolute purpose; a brief and clear description of why the organisation exists and why you do what you do.


  • Costa Coffee: “To save the world from mediocre coffee…”
  • Amazon: “To serve consumers through online and physical stores, and focus on selection, price and convenience.”
  • Marks & Spencer: “To make inspirational quality accessible to all.”


Values: these are all about “how” we carry out our work by listing the central principles and ethics by which the organisation operates; the Company values are our guiding light.


  • Costa Coffee: “Passion, Determination, Accountability, Sincerity, Respect.”
  • Amazon: “Customer Obsession, Long-Term Thinking, Eagerness to Invent, Pride in Operational Excellence.”
  • Marks & Spencer: “Quality, Service, Innovation, Trust.”


Do we really need them?


I’ve heard so many employers dismiss vision, mission and value statements as a load of old guff; some sort of fluffy meaningless management speak (along with ‘low-hanging fruit’, ‘blue-sky thinking’ and ‘circling back’).  But actually, you will already have your vision, mission and values in place – whether you realise it or not, you’re already living them every day.  When a business idea is first formed, you know (or should know) what your passion and purpose is, what your future goals are and how you want to achieve them; you just might not have articulated all of this in a formal statement.


But if you don’t articulate and actively share your vision, mission and values, how will your employees and customers know what you’re all about?  How will they know if your business has a purpose and culture they can engage with and buy into?   And it’s not enough to simply display them on your website or notice boards – they need to be weaved through all aspects of your business, like “a golden thread” (there, another cringey business phrase for you!).


In my next blog, I’ll take you through a case study of how one of our clients recently refreshed their vision, mission and values following a really turbulent time in the business, and how they successfully managed to use this exercise to re-engage their people in several different ways.


By the way, if you’re interested in watching our ‘Back to the Future of Work Again’ webinars, we’re showing the replays for a limited time only on our Facebook group:


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