At the very heart of the existence of any organization lies the answer to a very important “why” question. And this question always needs to be about why the organization should ever exist, namely its purpose! All organizations exist for a purpose. And the purpose always has to do with serving somebody or something else. No organization can exist for serving nothing but itself. For such an organization would sooner or later die. There has therefore to be a need that the organization wants to satisfy and it is only when well-defined ideas on how to provide for this need in the best possible way are defined that an organization can exist.
Organizations may come to existence for achieving a purpose. However it is not this purpose that drives their evolution. Organizational mission alone cannot do that. It is simply not enough for an organization to identify why it should ever exist in order to go forward. It is also of paramount importance to also identify what it needs to do with that. Enter Organizational vision! Organizational vision is about what the organization needs to achieve so that to fulfill its purpose. It is therefore about the question of “what” it needs to do and how far it wants to go in so that its mission be considered as accomplished.
Organizational mission and vision, contrary to what many may believe, are not simply nice words that only serve organizational communications purposes. They become very operational when it comes down to figuring out which the target markets are and which the organizational goals would need to be. In this respect, they serve as the starting point for the strategy and the management process for every organization. They But there is still something missing…
Well-devised organizational mission and vision are important, since the former sets the playground, whereas the second set the goals of the game. However, for any game to be interesting and therefore worth playing, there have to be rules. Rules may of course be imposed but from the point of view of organizations imposed rules are not that important. Instead, it is important that organizations define how and at the same time how not to act in order to fulfill their purpose and to achieve their dreams themselves. They have to set limits to what can be considered acceptable and what cannot. Simply said, not all means can be justified by ends and organizations need to define, for their own sake first, what is means can be considered appropriate for the sake of the fulfillment of their mission and vision. And it is organizational values that do exactly that by answering the “how” questions. And it is only when all the “why” the “what” and the “how” questions have been answered that organizations can begin, grow and thrive!