The Decision-Making Power of Mission Statements

Rudder => Direction

Making Decisions without a Mission Statement is like Steering a Sail Boat without a Rudder.

Most groups who don’t have a Vision Statement often don’t have a mission statement either.  They wonder why decision-making is so tedious and, sometimes, riddled with conflict.

If they do have a mission statement, the message often is unclear and asked if they understand what it means, a lot of blank faces fill the room.

Too, if a group has a vision statement and a mission statement, often they are contradictory or mixed up. 

Many times groups are confused who their clients are and what services should actually be delivered to whom.  If women are being served, then the focus must be on the women, not other people in their lives.

Where does a group begin?

Values – establish common values pertaining to the services provided.  What does the group value? 

How many values?  The list can be long but establish no more than 6 values on which to base the work of the organization.

What’s a value? 

Something intrinsic to the work of the group.  For example, quality or clarity or impeccable service or practical – get the idea?

Values set the “flavor” of the work.

Vision is about the future –

What does the group want the organization to look like in say, five years from now.  To be . . . or not to be  . . . in this case, it’s “to be”.

Mission Means Purpose

What is the organization’s purpose?  The mission statement works best if it is multi-dimensional.  In other words, the statement contains a full description of the purpose of the organization.  If I read it, I would know immediately what your organization is about.

Some of the components include:

Clients – identifying quite precisely who the organization serves – is it women?  is it men?  is it children?  They could be all connected but trying to serve all three dilutes the service.  The purpose could be to help single men cope with being a single parent.  The children are part of that world.  However, is the service for the dads or for the kids?  Your “target market” must be very clear.

Contribution – what is the organization’s contribution to the market it serves?  What difference are you making?

Distinction – how does your organization set itself apart from other organizations doing similar work?  How will people recognize your organization?


So how does all this translate into decision-making?

First, it puts everyone on the same page.  Everyone should be able to understand and tell anyone who is interested what the organization is about and how it conducts itself to serve its client base.

Second, when the discussions heat up about a solution to an issue, the possible solutions  can be put through the test of  values, vision and mission.  It saves a lot of time, energy and conflict.

Third, the focus remains on the organization and the market it serves – not on the extraneous matters which often creep into organizations through individual agendas.  Is whatever you are doing making the world a better place or a worse place for your clients?

If you need help, please do contact me, Lorraine AramsHave a look at the workshops I offer at



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