Introduction to Industrial Engineering
By Jane M. Fraser
Return to the Table of Contents.
4.1 Mission, vision, and values statements.
Covey says “Begin with the end in mind” and all organizations should do that.
An organization should have a mission statement, that is, a clear, succinct statement of why it exists.
Collins and Porras suggest this approach to defining mission, or what they call purpose:
An effective way to get at purpose is to pose the question
"Why not just shut this organization down, cash out, and sell off the assets?"
and to push for an answer that would be equally valid both now and one hundred years
into the future. (page 78)
Consider these examples:
- “The mission of the Environmental Protection Agency is to protect
human health and the environment.”
- “The American Heart Association is a national
voluntary health agency whose mission is to reduce
disability and death from cardiovascular diseases and stroke.”
- “The FTC's antitrust arm, the Bureau of Competition,
seeks to prevent business practices that restrain competition.
As a result, purchasers benefit from lower prices and greater
availability of products and services.”
- “NFI’s mission is to improve the well being of children by
increasing the proportion of children growing up with involved,
responsible, and committed fathers.” (National Fatherhood Initiative,
- “The mission of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner
for Human Rights (OHCHR) is to protect and promote
all human rights for all and to prevent the occurrence or
continuation of human rights abuses throughout the world.”
- “The mission of the [Illinois] Department of Corrections is to
protect the public from criminal offenders through a system of
incarceration and supervision which securely segregates offenders from society,
assures offenders of their constitutional rights and
maintains programs to enhance the success of offenders' reentry into society.”
- “Our mission is to be an innovative leader in custom metal and wood fabrication
incorporating other integrated materials,
providing exceptional value in quality, cost, delivery and service
that exceeds the expectations of our customers, associates and business partners.”
(Ready Metal, Source)
- “Our Mission is to be a world class manufacturer of engineered strip metal
based products that foster our Customers' success.”
(Technical Materials, Inc.,
- “To build hope, by becoming the plastic surgery patient's partner,
frightening them just enough to go beyond fact finding, to become
bold, responsible and informed patients.
To fill the gap that often exists between the doctor's art and the
patient's desired results through consultation, long-distance coaching,
written guidance and top-of-the-line products that speed postoperative
recuperation and help maintain surgical results.”
(Susan Gail Enterprises, Inc., Source)
- “Newman Flange & Fitting Company is an integrated forge & machine shop,
capable of furnishing all types of ASA, API, ANSI B16.5, B16.11, etc.,
and special corrosion resistant forged flanges in the sizes listed on the included pages.
We can supply nickel alloys, copper alloys, exotic metals, and other specific metal items
in finished machined, rough machined or rough forged forms.
Our quality control department can furnish required documentation to
satisfy ASME & ASTM code requirements.”
- “American Apparel is a vertically integrated manufacturer and
retailer of clothing for men, women, kids and dogs.
Meaning, we've consolidated all stages of production under one roof at our downtown
Los Angeles factory-from the cutting and sewing,
right through to the photography and marketing.”
- “Armstrong Healthcare’s mission is to be the
acknowledged leading provider worldwide of image-guided surgical robots.
Through a superior understanding of customer needs we will apply
technology to provide solutions that enable better outcomes for patients
and more cost effective surgical treatment.
Our expertise in image-guided robotics will enable surgeons to achieve
increased accuracy in the fields of neurosurgery and orthopaedics.
Solutions incorporating our telemanipulator technology shall promote
wider adoption of minimally invasive approaches to cardiothoracic and abdominal surgery.”
The following list gives attributes of a good mission statement:
- It should state the purpose for which the organization exists.
- It should have a narrow focus.
- It should be clear.
- It should get to the point.
- It should be realistic, feasible, achievable.
- It should be a succinct one sentence with few adjectives and adverbs.
- It should provide guidance for leadership and employees.
- It should let prospective employees know what the company is like.
- It should be unique to that organization.
Consider again the examples given above. Most of these are well written.
Some are a little wordy, some are more
than one sentence, and some incorporate elements of vision and values statements,
which we will discuss in
the next sections.
However, each provides a clear statement about why the organization exists and they
all provide guidance to members of the organization about what types of activities
it should undertake.
For example, if a prospective client approached Armstrong Healthcare
to ask if the company can provide robots to perform intercranial biopsies,
the company would respond "we can."
If a prospective client approached Technical Materials, Inc., to ask
the company to manufacture a device that had no strip metal components,
the company would say "we don't do that." In fact, companies often
refer clients to other companies and often receive referrals back in turn.
A group of companies, in a geographical area or in an industry, often
know the missions of each company and refer clients to the appropriate company.
Now consider these examples of mission statements,
which don't make clear what the organization does:
- “The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality
of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride,
and Company Spirit.”
- “To be the best…serving our customers by providing peace of mind
and enriching their quality of life through our partnership in the management
of the risks they face.”
Source; ellipsis in
- “At Microsoft, we work to help people and businesses
throughout the world realize their full potential.”
- "To supply products to our customer at a price and quality level
that maintains and ultimately improves their competitive edge in the marketplace.
Based on a firm commitment to customer support and a guarantee,
to be at all times, fully accountable for our actions."
(Foresight Optical Ltd., Source)
If you didn't know from the name of the organization what it does,
these statements don't help much.
An organization should also have a vision statement,
that is, a statement of how the organization would like to be perceived by its customers.
A mission statement gives the reason the organization exists.
The vision statement describes what the organization wants to be.
What is the destination for this organization?
Consider these examples:
- “Our vision is to be the world's most dynamic science company,
creating sustainable solutions essential to a better, safer and healthier life
for people everywhere.” (DuPont Science,
- “To build the largest and most complete Amateur Radio community site on the Internet.”
- “Clemson [University] will be one of the nation's top-20 public universities.”
- “The mission of Yobotics is to advance the state-of-the art in legged robots
and powered leg orthotics while filling the needs of various legged robot markets.
Our goal is to grow alongside the fields of biomimetic robotics and powered prosthetics
as we lead the development of new technologies
with healthcare, academic, military, and entertainment applications.”
Alliance for NonProfit Management provides good advice on creating a vision statement:
“A vision statement should be realistic and credible, well articulated and easily understood, appropriate,
ambitious, and responsive to change. It should orient the group's energies and serve as a guide to action.
It should be consistent with the organization's values. In short, a vision should challenge and inspire the group to achieve its mission.”
quotes Ron Robinson, president of ABARIS Consulting Inc., as saying that a vision statement should paint
“a picture of the ideal organization in the future.” It should not look only a few years into the future.
The following list gives attributes of a good vision statement:
- It should state what the organization aims to be in the future.
- It should allow for growth and development.
- It should be inspiring to the employees. Now you can use the adjectives and adverbs that didn’t belong in them mission statement.
- It should be clear.
Finally, many organizations have a values statement.
Carter McNamara says
“Values represent the core priorities
in the organization’s culture, including what drives members’
priorities and how they truly act in the organization, etc.”
Consider these examples:
- “Toastmasters International’s core values are integrity,
dedication to excellence, service to the member, and respect for the individual.
These are values worthy of a great organization, and we believe we should
incorporate them as anchor points in every decision we make.
Our core values provide us with a means of not only guiding but
also evaluating our operations, our planning, and our vision for the future.”
"IBMers determined that our actions will be driven by these values:
- Dedication to every client's success
- Innovation that matters, for our company and for the world
- Trust and personal responsibility in all relationships"
- A2Z Computing Services Value Statement:
We are responsible to the communities that we represent. To provide them a service that will enhance their online community with a professional, informative and entertaining website.
We are responsible to the residents of the communities. To provide them a source of information pertaining to all aspects of their community that are inkeeping with the community's values and morals.
We are responsible to the businesses that advertise on and sponsor our pages. To do our best to ensure the success of their advertising campaign with fair pricing and quality design work.
We are responsible to the nonprofit and community organizations. To provide them a method to market and support their missions via our community websites.
We are responsible to our employees. To provide them a safe work environment, fair wages, opportunity for advancement, and equal opportunity regardless of sex, race or religion.
We are responsible to our subcontractors. To provide them agreeable and timely payment for services and adequate information for completion of the work ordered.
We are responsible to our suppliers. To provide them timely payment for products or services and to demand not the impossible but to request the reasonable.
We are responsible to the banks and creditors who have loaned us money. To submit payments timely and accurately.
We are responsible to our investors. To ensure their investment returns a reasonable profit.
The following list gives attributes of a good values statement:
- It should set priorities for the organization by stating what is important.
- It should describe how members of the organization interact
with each other and with others outside the organization.
- It should provide guidance about trade-offs.
Collins and Porras found that visionary companies have strong values.
In a visionary company, the core values need no rational or external justification.
Nor do they sway with the trends and fads of the day.
Nor even do they shift in response to changing market conditions. (page 75)
Now let's put mission, vision, and values all together.
Collins and Porras found that mission, vision, and values (or what they call ideology)
was very important to their visionary companies.
A detailed pair-by-pair analysis showed that the visionary companies
have generally been more ideologically driven and less purely profit-driven
than the comparison companies in seventeen out of eighteen pairs. ...
This is one of the clearest differences we found
between the visionary and comparison companies. (page 55)
But they also noted:
The visionary companies attained their stature not so much
because they made visionary pronouncements (although they often did make such pronouncements).
Nor did they rise to greatness because they wrote
one of the vision, values, purpose, mission, or aspiration statements
that have become popular in management today
(although they wrote such statements more frequently
than the comparison companies and decades before it became fashionable).
Creating a statement can be a helpful step in building a visionary company,
but it is only one of thousands of steps in
a never-ending process of expressing the fundamental characteristics
we identified across the visionary companies. (pages 10-11)
Peters argues that a leader should live the vision and
preach it with intensity and emotion (Thriving on Chaos, pages 406-407).
Hayes and Wheelwright found that the successful manufacturing
companies had strong philosophies.
Jim Collins says the statements don't matter as much as the alignment
of theorganization with the mission, vision, and values:
Studying and working closely with some of the world's most visionary organizations
has made it clear that they concentrate primarily on the process of alignment, not on crafting the perfect "statement."
Not that it is a waste of time to think through fundamental questions like, "What are our core values?
What is our fundamental reason for existence?
What do we aspire to achieve and become?"
Indeed, these are very important questions-questions that get at the "vision" of the organization.
Organizations that have mission, vision, and values statements may not call them that and may not separate out the three parts.
They often put these statements together on one web page. Consider these examples.
CIA Vision, Mission, and Values
We will provide knowledge and take action to ensure the
national security of the United States and the preservation of American life and ideals.
We are the eyes and ears of the nation and at times its hidden hand.
We accomplish this mission by:
Collecting intelligence that matters.
Providing relevant, timely, and objective all-source analysis.
Conducting covert action at the direction of the President to
preempt threats or achieve United States policy objectives.
In pursuit of our country's interests, we put Nation before Agency,
Agency before unit, and all before self. What we do matters.
Our success depends on our ability to act with total discretion and
an ability to protect sources and methods.
We provide objective, unbiased information and analysis.
Our mission requires complete personal integrity and personal
courage, physical and intellectual.
We accomplish things others cannot, often at great risk.
When the stakes are highest and the dangers greatest, we are there and there first.
We stand by one another and behind one another.
Service, sacrifice, flexibility, teamwork, and quiet patriotism are our hallmarks.
Ford Motor Company
To become the world's leading consumer company for automotive products and services.
We are a global family with a proud heritage passionately
committed to providing personal mobility for people around the world.
We anticipate consumer need and deliver outstanding products and
services that improve people's lives.
Our business is driven by our consumer focus, creativity, resourcefulness,
and entrepreneurial spirit.
We are an inspired, diverse team.
We respect and value everyone's contribution.
The health and safety of our people are paramount.
We are a leader in environmental responsibility.
Our integrity is never compromised and we make a positive contribution to society.
We constantly strive to improve in everything we do.
Guided by these values, we provide superior returns to our shareholders.
The University of San Francisco
The University of San Francisco will be internationally recognized
as a premier Jesuit Catholic, urban University with a global perspective
that educates leaders who will fashion a more humane and just world.
The core mission of the University is to promote learning in the Jesuit Catholic tradition.
The University offers undergraduate, graduate and professional students
the knowledge and skills needed to succeed as persons and professionals,
and the values and sensitivity necessary to be men and women for others.
The University will distinguish itself as a diverse,
socially responsible learning community of high quality scholarship and
academic rigor sustained by a faith that does justice.
The University will draw from the cultural, intellectual and
economic resources of the San Francisco Bay Area and its location on the
Pacific Rim to enrich and strengthen its educational programs.
The University’s core values include a belief in and a commitment to advancing:
- the Jesuit Catholic tradition that views faith and reason as
complementary resources in the search for truth and authentic human development,
and that welcomes persons of all faiths or no religious beliefs as
fully contributing partners to the University;
- the freedom and the responsibility to pursue truth and
follow evidence to its conclusion;
- learning as a humanizing, social activity rather than a competitive exercise;
- a common good that transcends the interests of particular individuals or groups;
and reasoned discourse rather than coercion as the norm for decision making;
- diversity of perspectives, experiences and traditions as essential components
of a quality education in our global context;
- excellence as the standard for teaching, scholarship, creative expression
and service to the University community;
- social responsibility in fulfilling the University’s mission to create,
communicate and apply knowledge to a world shared by all people and
held in trust for future generations;
- the moral dimension of every significant human choice:
taking seriously how and who we choose to be in the world;
- the full, integral development of each person and all persons,
with the belief that no individual or group may rightfully prosper at the expense of others;
- a culture of service that respects and promotes the dignity of every person.
The Society of Mexican American Engineers and Scientists (MAES)
To promote excellence in engineering, science,
and mathematics while cultivating the value of cultural diversity by:
- Motivating and mentoring students and professionals
- Assisting students in securing financial aid and employment opportunities
- Empowering students, parents, and professionals through
educational maes outreach programs
- Stimulating successful partnerships with the community,
government, and industry to provide tomorrow’s leaders
To be the model professional organization that successfully
raises the education level of American and develops committed leaders for tomorrow.
As we have seen, some mission statements just aren't very good.
Also, some organizations make the creation of mission, vision, and statements
into a ponderous exercise, without much purpose.
I have spent time on mission, vision, and values statements for three reasons.
- As Covey says, “begin with the end in mind.”
Collins and Porras found that the visionary companies were more likely to
focus on an ideology than were the less successful companies.
- The IE working for an organization needs guidance –
exactly what does this organization do and with what values?
What is the goal that this organization’s system is trying to reach?
If the organization’s mission isn’t clear the IE will have a hard time
knowing what effectiveness means for that organization.
- As I will discuss more in Chapter 8 IE Careers,
you will be happier if you work for an organization
that is compatible with your mission and vision, and especially with your values.
For some humor on the subject of mission and vision statements, try these links: