One of the most compelling and iconic vision statements of our times was from Walt Disney,
when he said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”
Vision statements are used often by companies, but unfortunately are not so well-
understood. It has become cliched for every organization to have a vision, a mission and a
set of values. Sadly, vision and mission continue to be confused quite often and used
The Oxford dictionary defines vision as “the ability to think about or plan the future with
imagination or wisdom”. The key things here are future, imagination, and wisdom. The
vision statement should articulate the future ambition of the company in a clear and
succinct sentence. Research clearly indicates that employees who find their company’s
vision meaningful have engagement levels that are 18 percentage points above the market
average. (Forbes, 2014) So it’s not just a fluffy marketing statement to be stuck onto
brochures. Since engagement translates into high performance, there is a direct business
link between a meaningful vision that people relate to, and strong business results.
But, the question still remains. How are mission and vision different?
The vision, quite simply is the ‘why’ – what is the reason for existence of the company?
What is the lofty long-term goal that the company is trying to chase? For example, IKEA’s
vision statement is, “To create a better everyday life for the many people”
The mission statement describes the current state and how the company will attain its
vision. For example, IKEA’s mission is, “Offer a wide range of well-designed, functional home
furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford
It’s a more tangible ‘here and now’ statement about what the company will do in the
present to create a better everyday life. Vision acts as a guiding beacon to decision-making,
and the mission provides a roadmap to get there.
Of course, misalignment creates its own problems. When Anita Roddick founded The Body
Shop, her vision was to pursue ‘social and environmental change’ through fair trade and
ethically sourced raw materials, and ensure that none of the products were tested on
There was a global outcry among customers and employees when in 2006, they were
acquired by L’Oreal, a company with a mission to ‘offer each and every person around the
world the best of beauty’. L’Oreal sells in China, which means its products have to be tested
on animals first, as per Chinese regulations. The mission statement of the parent company
was at odds with the vision of the acquired company. Finally, after 11 unhappy years, when
profits tumbled by 38% in 2016, The Body Shop was sold to Natura, a Brazilian company
with similar goals of social and environmental standards. And it’s hardly surprising that with
an aligned vision and mission, the company has seen unprecedented success again.
A truly compelling vision can ensure that top talent is attracted, motivated and engaged to work with your company. To create a vision that people can relate to,
If your vision can create that sense of purpose, and you can measure and finetune it, you
will certainly be able to transform your talent outcomes and your Wx.
Sam is the President and founder of CompTeam.
His core focus is leading companies through transformational change by optimizing talent initiatives with reward programs to achieve long-term strategic objectives. Sam’s diverse experience includes the design and optimization of performance-driven variable compensation plans for executive, sales and core employee populations of growing companies. Prior to founding CompTeam, Sam has worked in compensation functions of notable firms such as BlackRock, McKesson and Automatic Data Processing (ADP).
Sam is a global certified compensation consultant (CCP, GRP) with over 15 years of experience in Total Reward Strategies.