Some companies write mission statements, others write vision statements, and a few write values statements – and our clients write Engaged Purpose statements. Are these all the same thing? Not at all! And how they’re different may surprise you.

Different Purposes

A mission statement concisely explains why the organization exists. When you’re drafting a mission statement, the questions you’ll want to answer are:

  • What does your organization do, for whom?
  • Why is it important?

A vision statement is forward-looking and talks about what ideals the organization wants to achieve. Its purpose is to inspire employees and act as a compass for decision-makers. The questions you’ll want to answer are:

  • What are we trying to help people do / what problem are we trying to solve?
  • How do we see our role in that solution?
  • How would we like to see this solution and role evolve in the future?

A values statement outlines the ethical and moral principles that act as a compass for the organization. Questions to answer include:

  • What values guide our organization?
  • What is the effect we wish to have on our employees, on the environment, on our society?
  • How can we conduct ourselves so that we have that positive effect?

An Engaged Purpose statement is intended to clearly communicate to your team what your company does and why (like a mission statement), but also details the transformation you’re trying to create, and provides a structure that will inspire your team to align their daily activities with your company’s larger aspirations. In short: an Engaged Purpose statement reminds your employees why their work matters – to your company, to your customers, and to the world.

Different Audiences

Each of these statements also differs in the audience they’re written to reach. Mission statements are written more for customers than anyone else and are frequently found on organization About pages. Vision and values statements are written for leadership and employees and are often shared with customers as well.

Engaged Purpose statements are purely internal, intended to be read and used by employees within the company and their contractors. They’re not a PR move and not for publication on your client-facing website. You certainly can share them if you want to, but it’s important for your employees to know that this is for them – and only them.

A meaningful purpose statement is the very core of an Engaged Organization. It’s the glue that holds everything together. It connects team members, provides structure, and gives everyone shared goals.