Start with Purpose

A colleague asked me how to distinguish between Mission, Vision, and Purpose.
Clearly they are inter-related. Here's how I would make distinctions.
Our Mission is what we are setting out to achieve for our customers. It is a here-and-now reflection of our Purpose which is Why we have come together as a team or organization and the difference we hope to make.
Our Vision projects our view into the future and describes what we aspire to become.
Let me illustrate with one of my recent clients, a staffing company here in NJ. Their mission is to provide high quality temporary staff for light industrial companies. Their purpose is to assist communities by providing employment in urban areas of New Jersey. Their vision is to become the # 1 staffing company in their industry.
Regarding Values, when you look at values such as Integrity, Service, Safety, you can quickly see that such represent the pledge of commitment that the organization is making to its stakeholders including employees, customers, and communities.
For example consider this private school in NJ: Faith, Caring, Excellence. 
When an organization enacts and embodies its values, one would observe its "values in action."
When we look at an organization, we see many examples of values in action...or NOT in action. For example, one that values safety, but operators routinely fail to wear personal protective equipment in designated areas. Such gaps between values and actions are commonplace in organizations everywhere.
So there is always a "tension" between what we espouse and what we do.
Bringing intent and behavior into closer alignment is a challenge. But with constancy of purpose, we can do it.
Terrence Seamon helps his clients to clarify and pursue purpose. Follow him on twitter @tseamon


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