How to write a Vision, Mission, values, and True North statement

Published

90% of organizations continue to miss their strategic targets. Poor planning is at the root, but you are only as good as your culture. Here's what you need to know about using a True North statement to connect your Vision, Mission, and Values.  

Written by: James Milsom, Head of Marketing 

 

Ninety percent of organizations fail to meet their strategic targets due to poor planning.

You are only as good as your culture and strategy.

The beginnings of a successful organization, let alone strategy, are creating and communicating a vision, mission, and values.

However, it can be a daunting task if you don't know where to begin.

But, if you follow these simple tips, you'll be on your way to creating a strong company culture with an inspiring direction. And, with a Hoshin Kanri management twist involved in the shape of True North statements, you can wrap your direction into a coherent, passionate declaration.

 

“If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.”

Steve Jobs

 

What Is A Vision Statement?

A vision statement is the anchorage of a strategic plan, and it describes what your organization wishes to accomplish in the long term.

The statement gives a direction for planning and executing strategic plans and highlights your organization's future look.

 

Vision Examples

HP:

To create technology that makes life better for everyone, everywhere

 

Coca-Cola:

To craft the brands and choice of drinks that people love, to refresh them in body & spirit—and done in ways that create a more sustainable business and better-shared future that makes a difference in people's lives, communities, and our planet.

 

Download template

 

 

What is a Good Vision Statement?

A good Vision has the power to propel your organization to new heights and inspire your employees to be their best. Here are some pointers on what makes a 'good' statement:

  • Aligned with your organization's strategic plans and goals
  • Easy to communicate and remember
  • Straightforward
  • Defines the organization's purpose
  • Conceptual yet challenging
  • Focused on the future, but written in the present tense

 

“A vision is not just a picture of what could be; it is an appeal to our better selves, a call to become something more.”

Rosabeth Moss Kanter

 

Creating a Vision Statement

Creating a compelling Vision need not be complicated. Here are some tips on building yours:

  1. Lay out your goals
  2. Ask the big questions
  3. Communicate to your employees and factor in their feedback
  4. Make it bold, aspiring, and motivational
  5. Keep it brief but clear
  6. Why is your organization unique?
 
And inspiration can come in many forms, and help shape meaningful, story-driven statements:
 

 

TEDx advice on building your Vision Statement

 

What Is A Mission Statement? 

With a Vision set, you will turn to discuss your values and objectives. While often confused with Visions, the Mission is very much different. 

A mission statement is a statement that highlights your organization's purpose.

The statement answers the question, "why does your organization exist?" defines and explains your organization's core values and objectives.

 

Mission Examples

Progressive Insurance:

We seek to be an excellent, innovative, growing, and enduring business by cost-effectively and profitably reducing the human trauma and economic costs of auto accidents and other mishaps, and by building a recognized, trusted, admired, business-generating brand.

 

Xerox:

Our strategic intent is to help people find better ways to do great work — by constantly leading in document technologies, products, and services that improve our customers' work processes and business results.

 

What Is A Good Mission Statement? 

As for your Mission statement, here is what a 'good' version measures up as:

  • Authentic
  • Foundational
  • Succinct and concise
  • Connective and motivational to your employees
  • Measurable and compelling

 

Creating a Mission Statement

Creating your Mission is straightforward and starts with a 'to'. Measure the statement against it being:

  • Valuable – identify the value your organization offers employees and customers
  • Inspirational – why should employees want to work for you, and what drives customers to your brand?
  • Plausible – your mission should be accomplishable and creditableness
  • Specific – relate your mission statement to your business strategy and how you will accomplish your objectives

 

What Are Business Values?

Business values, also known as core values, are a collection of constant fundamental beliefs and directional principles that work harmoniously in succeeding your organization's objectives, shaping culture, and influencing the implementation of your strategic plan (equally as important as your business model).

These are often a combination of defined attributes but also come together from how you operate and act as an organization. 

Core values make it easy for you to make vital decisions, encourage teamwork, and foster collaboration between your customers, employees, and organization.

Examples of Business Values:

Diageo:
● Passionate about customers and consumers
● Freedom to succeed
● Pride with our work
● Strive to be the best
● Value for each other


And these are brought to life in many ways, including through career collateral: 

Diageo's culture summarized in an effective careers video on YouTube

 

How Do You Identify Business Values?

Finding your values can stretch from surveys to observing your business in practice, like through a Kaizen. However, here is a suggested values process:

  1. Gather your team of experts in charge of creating the values
  2. Collaborate with all stakeholders to gather valuable thoughts and ideas
  3. Take a deep dive into your current organization's culture. You can get inspiration from other companies in the industry
  4. Draft the core values and share them with all stakeholders, and consider their feedback
  5. Refine for increased clarity, and ensure they align with your strategic plan, vision, and mission
  6. Consider any feedback from stakeholders
  7. Polish the final authentic draft and post it throughout the organization

 

Ideas On How To Communicate Your Business Values

As we have seen with Diageo, there are many ways to cement and talk to your business values. Some best practices include:

  • Executive decision-makers should lead by example
  • Make sure the core values are always visible throughout the organization; on scoreboards, bulletin boards, communique, and dashboards, among other locations
  • Instill the core values in your organization's communication framework
  • Utilize any employee advocacy tools in your organization to communicate the core values, foster collaboration, input, feedback, and recognition
  • Boost employee engagement by appreciating the employees' efforts to promote the values


What Is A True North?

True North is an approach from Hoshin Kanri that ensures all stakeholders are aligned toward realizing your organization's strategic goals. By creating a statement that blends the Vision and Mission you can create a clear, guiding direction that gives purpose to action at all the organization's levels.

A true north statement articulates your organization's purpose and guides every decision it makes. It gives the right direction your organization should follow to achieve its strategic plans.

True North examples:

AerospaceCo

To be a global defense, aerospace, and security organization we must ensure that our strategic priorities develop a sustainable advantage, which helps our customers to take care of the thing that matters most to them.


InsurEco

To maintain our position as the market leader in insurance services, we will pursue opportunities to fortify our relationships with existing customers, ensuring our products deliver a contingency for every tomorrow.

What Is a Good True North Statement?

As your organization's compass, the True North has the power to propel you to breakthrough results, and it all starts with what a 'good' North Statement lives up to be. This includes:

  • Simple
  • Definite, straightforward, and audacious goals
  • Guide the organization to take the right path
  • Encourages all stakeholders to align with the organization's goals and strategic plan
  • Permanent and constant principles

 

Watch how this Canadian health organization brings its True North to life.

 

How To Create Your True North 

When it comes to building out your True North, it pays to look at your current Vision and Mission, and within your industry for examples.

Combining will initially be difficult, but should inspire everyone towards the end goal.

Don't be afraid to draft, re-draft, and draft again.

Try this process for drafting:

  1. Identify the most important objectives of the organization
  2. Gather the teams in charge
  3. Conduct an audit of the organization's past performance
  4. Draft several potential true north statements
  5. Gather feedback from all stakeholders
  6. Refine, retest and polish


Hoshin Kanri eBook

 

The Importance of Vision, Mission, Values, and True North Statements

The vision and mission statements are the guidelines for where you want your organization to be in the future and how it will get there.

The business values direct how all stakeholders will behave during this journey.

The True North is a succinct tool to ensure all these stakeholders are aligned and moving in the same direction towards achieving the organization's goals and ensuring the success of its strategic plans.

 

Learn More About Strategy

Click here to learn more about strategy or take a look at these content recommendations:

  • Read Our Strategic Portfolio Management 101: Strategic Portfolio Management is becoming increasingly popular as more businesses look to optimize and improve their time to market, address their CAPEX, achieve their ESG targets, and realize their strategic goals - so what does it all mean?
  • The Key To Strategy Execution: Read our eBook to help you with implementing a new strategic portfolio management plan, with advice on how to execute your plan successfully and avoid common mistakes.
  • Help Your Business Become Agile: Discover why an adaptive approach to strategic planning and execution begins with Operational Excellence.

 

About the author

James Milsom is Head of Marketing at i-nexus. James has wide-ranging experience in markets such as telecommunications, energy, education, and software.

As Head of Marketing, his drive is to raise awareness and understanding of the challenges facing enterprises in delivering strategic objectives and transformation amidst changing markets and the obstacles traditional tools and methods present leaders.

If you’d like to talk more about Strategy Execution, reach out to James on james.milsom@i-nexus.com or connect with him on LinkedIn for the latest insights.

Download template

Recent Posts