by the Cornerstone Agility Team | 6 Minute Read

A strong organizational culture can be a major competitive advantage for your company. It can help you attract and retain top talent, as well as create a sense of loyalty among your employees. Additionally, a strong culture can help to differentiate your company from its competitors and assist with tough decisions when necessary. But culture cannot be manufactured overnight.

Rather, purposeful culture is cultivated over years through clarity of mission, vision, and values (MVV). Leaders use this strategic MVV framework to guide priorities, behaviors, and decisions at every level.

If you're looking to create or improve your company's culture, start by developing a clear mission and vision statement supported by a set of core values.

Understanding the Relationship Between Mission, Vision, and Values

First, what comprises MVV?

Mission = Overarching purpose and reason for existing. The "why". Our Mission:

  • Defines the organization's purpose and reason for existing.
  • Explains what the company does on a day-to-day basis.
  • Answers why the organization exists and who it serves.
  • Tends to be more static and focused on the present.

Vision = Future aspiration. Where the organization aims to be long-term. Provides direction. Our Vision:

  • Outlines the organization's future aspirations 3-5 years out.
  • Describes the ideal future state the company is working toward.
  • Sets a high-level strategic direction to aim for long-term.
  • Inspires people and helps guide strategy, but is open to evolution.

Values = Core principles that guide behaviors and norms. Our Values:

  • Drive strategy and value-based decision making
  • Guide how people should act and collaborate with one another
  • Create a culture of accountability, where team members are more likely to take ownership of their actions.
  • Attract top talent, as they will want to be associated with an organization that shares their values

With clarity in each area, they reinforce one other to steer the organization's goals, priorities, and desired culture.

How does a Mission Differ from a Vision Statement?

The mission and vision work together to respectively anchor and guide the organization. When crafted thoughtfully, they provide clarity on purpose, priorities, and aspired future state.

  • Mission declares "why we exist". Vision declares "where we aim to be".
  • Mission grounds the organization in its core utility. Vision provides high-level future direction.
  • Mission focuses on today. Vision focuses on tomorrow.
  • Mission is more static. Vision is inspirational and more dynamic over time.

What Makes a Good Mission and Vision Statement?

Our mission and vision statements need to be clear, concise, and motivating. Much like our objectives when working through OKRs, they should bring this “wow!” factor that helps others rally around the goal. Check out some notable examples:

Apple’s Mission and Vision Statements:

Apple's mission is "to bring the best user experience to its customers through innovative hardware, software, and services." Likewise, Apple’s vision statement is “To make the best products on earth and to leave the world better than we found it.”

Amazon Mission and Vision Statements:

Amazon’s mission is “to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, Earth’s best employer, and Earth’s safest place to work.” Meanwhile, Amazon’s vision is “to be earth's most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”

Walmart’s Mission and Vision Statements:

Walmart’s mission is “to save people money so that they can live better.” Their vision is a little bit more detailed. Walmart’s vision is “We aim to build a better world — helping people live better and renew the planet while building thriving, resilient communities. For us, this means working to create opportunity, build a more sustainable future, advance diversity, equity and inclusion and bring communities closer together. And at the end of the day, helping our customers save more of their hard-earned money for the things they care about most. Because at Walmart, Live Better is what we do every day.”

As you can see, for these companies, the mission statement drive the overall “why” of what the company sets out to be and achieve, while the vision statements show a little more clarity on how they plan to do that and what near-term focuses will be to accomplish their mission.

Strategic Planning Should Reflect your Mission, Vision, and Values

With MVV as your guides, regularly revisit strategic planning to verify alignment. Our MVV shouldn’t be in contrast with how we show up to deliver every day. It should be the driver of our strategy and our delivery. As you go through planning and execution ask yourself:

  • Do business objectives map clearly to fulfilling the mission and moving toward the vision? If not, adjust.
  • Do budgets and resources get allocated to power strategic priorities that serve MVV?
  • Are KPIs tied directly to targets that drive the core mission and vision?
  • Does the organization reward behaviors that exhibit its values? Are misalignments addressed?

Consistently realigning strategy and operations to MVV ensures people stay on course. It can help resolve prioritization concerns, and ultimately helps create alignment across value delivery.

Embedding MVV into Daily Actions

Beyond planning, MVV should be embedded in everyday work. A company the eats, sleeps, and breathes its mission, vision, and values will be regularly showcasing them and using them. Living your MVV means reflecting and aligning your people and decisions back to your ultimate goals. You can do this by:

  • Begin meetings by relating agenda items to MVV for context and priorities.
  • When making decisions, evaluate which option best aligns to the organization's values.
    Incorporate vision and mission concepts into internal communications to reinforce focus.
  • Recognize employees modelling the values through stories and shoutouts. Celebrate culture.
  • Evaluate team members and leaders partially on how well they live the values through behaviors.

When MVV guides frontline actions, desired culture follows.

Is Your Strategy Aligned to Your MVV?

At Cornerstone Agility, we focus on people-first approaches to transformation and change. That means living in alignment with our company’s mission, vision, and values.

Are you feeling misaligned? Send us a message and let’s work together to align strategy, execution, and culture to build high performing organizations!

Contact us, and let's get the conversation started!