Vision vs Mission Statement vs Goals vs Principles

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Sometimes I think we all need that refresher of the differences between Vision and Mission Statements etc. It’s summer time. What is your vision for the next academic year?

VISION: The end result of what you want to have done. It’s a future oriented, detailed description of outcomes you want to accomplish. Ideally what you want to exist, or have happen as a result of your efforts. When working on a vision, be as specific as possible – what does it look like, feel like? Who’s involved, how – what are they getting from and giving to the organization/experience?

MISSION STATEMENT: This should be a statement of why you exist (organization)
or what you want to be (person). This is your purpose. Ideally it should be one sentence,
easily repeatable, and inspiring. Can you boil your essence down to one thing?

GOALS & OBJECTIVES: Help you achieve your mission and help you work toward your vision.

PRINCIPLES: These are overarching guidelines for human conduct that are proven to
have enduring permanent value.  Another way to think of this is CORE VALUES, those
things woven through the fabric of society/culture. The Josephine Institute of Ethics has
identified six such principles. They are:
(1). Trustworthiness: honesty, candor, non-deception, promise keeping, loyalty
(2). Fairness: openness, impartiality, equity, due process, consistency
(3). Respect: privacy, autonomy, dignity, courtesy, tolerance, acceptance
(4). Caring: kindness, compassion, unselfishness, charity
(5). Responsibility: accountability, self-restraint, quality
(6). Citizenship: law-abiding, doing one’s share, community service
Sometimes these principles may conflict (Citizenship and Fairness – segregation laws vs.
civil rights). When they conflict, look for following the one that does the greatest good
for the greatest number.

VALUES: Quite simply, these are the things that are important to us. When one thinks
of ethics and integrity, these are non-ethical. They are in and of themselves neither good
nor bad (even though we value them). For example, we might value friendship highly.
Great. If our friendships are not in line with those principles, they can lead us to do
things that are unethical (cheat, steal, treat others badly). Same with wealth for example.
Wealth just is. If we achieve our wealth from our great idea, treat people (employees)
fairly, and don’t cheat the IRS, we’re in alignment. On the other hand, if I steal your
idea, and make millions, it’s dirty money. Values are more individual than principles.
Principles ought to be consistent from year to year for an organization. Each new group,
or new set of officers, will bring their own values, which will change what the
organization focuses on. Principles ought to determine how we operate – our foundation.

Here are some questions to get you thinking:

  • What are the principles you want to govern your organization’s actions?
  • What values do you want your organization to reflect?
  • List all the roles your organization plays for your community/the University.
  • Prioritize the top 3.
  • Identify the most important.
  • What is your unique contribution – what wouldn’t happen if you weren’t here?
  • What do you want students to say about your organization?
  • What difference or change do you want to make for your community/the University?
  • If you looked back in 10 years, what would give you the most pride about your affiliation
  • with your organization?
  • What would you like your legacy to be?
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