These terms are used inter-changeably, but they mean different things and serve different goals in strategy and tactics, culture and communications

From the first day you walk into business school, you hear these terms. Businesses refer to them all the time. It’s unclear however what they mean. Entrepreneurs rarely think of them at the onset, when eventually companies face existential crisis, they strive to coin them. I’ve spent considerable time researching these and if helpful, here’s what the findings are.

Your organization’s Vision is the beacon you strive for, what never changes. It answers the biggest question in all of business, the WHY?

Your Mission is what you do today to achieve that Vision – the HOW and WHAT. The Mission has to change, otherwise your company will stagnate, decline, and die.

In some ways, both strategy and tactics are manifests of the Mission to achieve the Vision, which is a more philosophical belief of set of beliefs.

A Statement of Purpose is both a higher calling but also a combination of how the Vision and Mission come together.

Given my Nature and Nurture, in hindsight it was clear that my personal and professional Statement of Purpose was Here to Serve. Our Vision (what we do, what doesn’t change) from the onset was to “Inform and Entertain” and our Mission (how we do it) today is by serving fans of pop culture franchises; when we launched in 2006, it was to inform and entertain with a video on every topic

It just so happened that we came along at a time and a place where it made sense to do so via storytelling via video programming. Before that, I was columnist and author. Since then I became a producer of documentaries. In the future, I will likely gravitate to scripted where I can expand from my actual experiences and fictionalize the many experiences I’ve lived and heard.

So if the Mission is where you now, the Vision is where you are steering to, without ever actually arriving. Aspects of the two yield your Statement of Purpose.

I touched on this in last year’s Tip Du Jour on the topic.

In some of my presentations, I’ve alluded to Vision vs vision – which is more about the literal meaning of the term. More on that here.