Difference Between Mission and Vision

Difference Between Mission and Vision

You must have heard this too many times – “have a plan for your life”. This is one of the best things you can do for yourself if you wish to make reasonable achievements in life. This applies to even the simplest things around us, as well as the complex ones. It also applies to our relationship with people, education, career, and businesses.

There are different types of plans: the long-term and short-term plans. In other words, you can refer to them as “vision” and “mission”. These two are going to be the focus of this article – their definitions, some examples, and the difference between mission and vision in a tabular illustration.

There are different ways you can compare these two terms, but we’ll narrow down our scope to the corporate world as it relates to business organizations.

Definition of Mission

A mission is defined as an action-based explanation of the purpose of the existence of an entity. It explains in the shortest and most precise sentence(s) possible what an entity stands for, its purpose, and the strategies that have been put in place to fulfill that purpose. At first glance, anyone should be able to summarize and memorize the purpose of the entity.

Note that entity, in this case, refers to an individual, a group of people, or a business organization. What are some key characteristics of this action-based statement?

  • Defines the entity’s cultural standpoint

This refers to the generally accepted attitude and behavior of the management and employees of a company.

  • Communicates values

This focuses on virtues that are most appreciated by the organization like boldness, honesty, accountability, learning, etc.

  • Explains fundamental goals

What does the company want at the end of the day? Is it money, or is it to make some form of impact on people? Answering this explains the goals of an organization.

Definition of Vision

A vision is defined as an articulation of the hopes and dreams of a person or an organization to serve as an inspiration and a framework for basic strategies. When comparing mission vs vision, one key thing that stands out is that the latter is more futuristic even though it is nothing more than just a summary.

It can also be defined as the direction to a big picture. Interestingly, this statement cannot stand in the place of a business plan. In other words, it gives you direction to where you are going, but it does not explain how you can get there. It is usually characterized by the following.

  • Audacious and inspirational

It should have some elements of motivation to keep everyone in check and should state the biggest picture the organization is aiming for.

  • Brevity and clarity

How concise and exact the statement is matters a lot. It should be straight to the point too.

  • Challenging

If it is not challenging enough, then it is not a worthy course. It must be abstract and all-encompassing so that it applies to every aspect of the organization.

To understand how vision vs mission compare, it is important to note how the factor of time affects these two. The latter is about the present, while the former is about both the present and the future.

Mission vs Vision Comparison Table

There is more to the difference between vision and mission other than the time factor. We’ll explain more of that with the table below. This will help you get a better comprehension of how these two plans are applied in the corporate world. As part of this comparison, we’ll also take a look at the difference between vision and mission with example.

Basis of Comparison Mission Vision
Definition This is an official declaration that guides the day-to-day activity of an organization with regards to the values of the establishment This is a declaration of the fundamental reason for the existence of an establishment
Time restrain Meant to function within a limited period of time Meant to function for long as the organization exists
Scheduled time Usually refers to the present Refers to both the present and the future
Purpose To educate concerned parties on how to achieve a goal To inspire concerned parties on how to stay in line with the organization’s values
Effects Expected to directly influence a select group at a time Expected to influence the world at large, directly or indirectly
Examples ·         American express
We work hard every day to make American Express the world’s most respected service brand
·         Tesla
To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy

·         IKEA
To create a better everyday life for many people
·         Tesla
To create the most compelling car company of the 21st century by driving the world’s transition to electric vehicles

Conclusion of Main Difference Between Mission vs Vision

You don’t have to work in an organization to have definitive statements guiding your life. But before you do that, you need to know the answer to the question – “what is the difference between vision and mission?”. This will help you align with your values and stay focused on all that you do.