Strategic Vision for Creative Businesses

Strategic Vision, Mission and Values for Creative Businesses and Cultural Organisations

“A Vision says something that clarifies the direction in which an organisation needs to move.”
– John P Kotter. Harvard Business Review.

Vision, Mission and Values provide a focus for action:

  • Vision describes where we are going – the ‘promised land’.
  • Mission describes what we are going to do to get there.
  • Values describe how we are going to conduct ourselves along the way.

An organisation’s Vision sets out its aspirations for the future. The Strategic Vision is the ‘dream’ of the future, a picture painted in words, which is intended to inspire people by appealing to the heart as well as the head.

A Strategic Vision must be a shared Vision, embraced by everyone in the business or organisation.

“To achieve great things, you must first dream great dreams.”
– Conrad Hilton. Founder of the Hilton Hotels chain.

For example, Westin Hotels and Resorts has the following Vision Statement:

“Year after year, Westin and its people will be regarded as the best and most sought after hotel and resort management group in North America.”

Babcock International Group plc has the following aspiration:
“Our vision is to become the partner of choice for supporting the outsourcing needs of government and private sector customers who have exacting technical and operational requirements.”

A Mission Statement is a more specific description of what the organisation actually does – its contribution to the world and society – so that employees, customers and other stakeholders know what the business needs to excel at.

“Mission and Philosophy is the key starting point in business. A business is not defined by its name, statutes, or articles of incorporation. It is defined by the business mission. Only a clear definition of the mission and purpose of the organisation makes possible clear and realistic business objectives.”
– Peter Drucker. (see also Peter Drucker’s Theory of the Business.)

For example, McKinsey Consulting Group’s Mission statement is:
“To help our clients make positive, lasting and substantial improvements in their performance and build a great firm that is able to attract, develop, excite and retain exceptional people.”

And the Mission Statement of Pitney Bowes reads:
“Pitney Bowes will deliver shareholder and customer value by providing leading-edge global, integrated mail and document management solutions for organizations of all sizes.”

Values or Core Beliefs underpin the Vision and Mission by saying how we work towards our goals.

For example, Siemens Automotive Systems ‘Values Statement’ is:
“A challenging, safe working environment promoting: trust, honesty, communication, empowerment, accountability, teamwork, mutual growth of our employees and our business, active participation in community programmes.”

Art Shape has the following Values:
“Art Shape is committed to creativity and imagination, equality and access. Art Shape recognises individual value and worth built upon mutual respect, warmth and integrity.”

What is important is that the organisation, business (or individual) understands and builds on its core beliefs and values to set out clear goals as a focus for action internally and to communicate its purpose to the external world.

The Vision Statement and Mission Statement should be short and clear, easily understood, and frequently communicated.

One of the leader’s main functions is to inspire people towards a vision. (See Inspirational Leadership.) Equally important though, is that everyone involved in an enterprise should be involved in clarifying and shaping the vision and  mission.

The process of clarifying the organisation’s Vision, Mission and Core Values, is a crucial starting point for any business strategy or business plan. It is also useful in so far as it explores what is at the heart of the organisation, reveals the Core Competencies of the business, which then can lead to seeing new opportunities based on those skills, often in unexpected directions. Furthermore, the organisation can more easily decide what it should NOT do (see Saying No).

The corporate Hedgehog Concept can also be found through this process.