Say Sayonara to Vision and Mission Statements and Do This Instead


In traditional strategic planning, you always start with a vision and a mission. The vision is a lofty goal you’re looking to accomplish, while the mission is supposed to describe how you’re going to achieve it.

Unfortunately, what often ends up happening is that you wind up with an overly ambitious vision statement that has no grounding in reality. In other words, the vision statement amounts to nothing more than some nice words on a wall.

The mission statement, while sometimes better, is often written by a committee and tends to incorporate too much meaningless jargon (I’m looking at you, ‘catalyst’ and ‘synergy’). A mission statement like this adds very little strategic value to the organization.

So, how do you clear up the confusion around vision statements and mission statements? It may sound strange coming from a business strategy consultant, but the answer is to stop using them. Here’s what you should do instead…


How to Accomplish Strategic Planning Without a Mission or Vision Statement


1. Figure out the Purpose of Your Organization

The single most important thing you can do when creating your strategy is to define why your business exists. Put differently, you need to figure out what change you want to make in the universe. What’s the impact you want to have?

This purpose statement should be short, simple, and actively phrased to describe what you want to do. Some of the best purpose statements out there are the most succinct. 

  • Disney: We create happiness by providing the best in entertainment for people of all ages everywhere.
  • Intuition Liners (one of our fantastic clients): Creating comfort.
  • Incrementa (yes, we do take our own advice): We create the aha moments that transform businesses. 

The purpose is meant to provide a steady sense of direction for what your business is going to work on. You can think of your purpose statement as your North Star. No matter where you go, you can orient yourself using that North Star and start heading in the right direction.


2. Create a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal (BHAG) 

Create a practical yet huge goal that inspires your team. We refer to that as a BHAG. Instead of having a vague, impractical mission statement, a BHAG gives you a very specific goal to work towards.

Let’s look at an example. Imagine you’re running a charity that addresses hunger. Which of these two statements sounds more actionable?

  • Imagine a world without hunger.
  • We’re going to feed 100,000 families over the next 10 years.

I think you’d agree that you could only realistically hope to achieve one of these. When you create a BHAG, you end up with a tangible and specific goal that is easy to focus on. 

You can create a plan to make this goal happen, track your progress, and measure success against it. This is incredibly inspirational. Month after month, quarter by quarter, and year after year, your team can see the impact they are having on the goal and be motivated to figure out how to do even more. 

A good purpose statement can replace a vision statement by setting a clear, concise direction for the organization. Instead of a vague mission statement, a BHAG provides an achievable, measurable alternative that can inspire your team.

If you’ve already got a mission and vision statement, it’s time to see if this suggestion can give you a more concrete direction. 

Need to talk it through? We’d love to help you create your ‘aha’ moment. Contact us today to get the conversation started.

Mike Knapp


Mike has been helping businesses achieve their goals for more than 20 years. He believes there is a better way for business owners and leaders to build their businesses and achieve their big goals. As a Gravitas Impact Premium coach, he leverages the 7 Attributes of Agile Growth™ to simplify the art of strategy and discipline of execution.

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