2.2 Mission, vision, values and objectives
In order for strategies to be successful they are underpinned by your mission, vision and values, and how the objectives throughout the organisations are set to ensure success, as such these need to be considered and understood when futures planning.
According to Richard Whittington (Professor of strategic management, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford) and colleagues:
A mission statement aims to provide employees and stakeholders with clarity about what the organisation is fundamentally there to do. This is often ascertained by asking for a description of what the organisation does, then keep asking ‘why?’ until the real mission of the organisation reveals itself.
A vision statement is concerned with the future the organisation seeks to create. This ‘typically expresses an aspiration that will enthuse, gain commitment and stretch performance’.
Statements of corporate values communicate the underlying and enduring core ‘principles’ that guide the organisation’s strategy and define the way that the organisation operates. These values need to be enduring and should not change with circumstances.
Objectives are statements of specific outcomes that are to be achieved.
(Whittington et al., 2020, pp. 8-9)
The following case study allows you to explore how mission, vision, values and objectives connect, and can be presented for all stakeholders.
Case Study: Bangor University
(Bangor University, n.d.) provides a notable example of the above statements:
OUR MISSION: A research-led University of and for North Wales, providing transformative learning experiences and nurturing a positive impact on society regionally, nationally, and internationally.
OUR VISION: A globally connected University, realising opportunities for success through transformative, innovative, impact-driven research and teaching, with a focus on sustainability: safeguarding the environment, revitalising society’s health, and promoting economic, social, bilingual, and cultural vibrancy.
OUR VALUES AND GUIDING PRINCIPLES: These six values and guiding principles are our cultural cornerstones, guiding our decision-making and how we work together as a University community.
Inspired by our history and our people, we enable the extraordinary. We are courageous, ambitious for our University, our colleagues, and our students, as well as supporting the ambitions of our partners.
We provide equal access, equal rights, and equal justice to all. We will promote mutual regard for the rights and liberties of diverse people and their ideas, backgrounds, and approaches to the pursuit of knowledge and understanding.
We act with honesty and transparency and will seek to collaborate in all we do. We will facilitate intellectual growth through academic freedom, creative expression and communication of truth, knowledge, social and moral development.
We trust, value, empower and care for each other, and we hold ourselves accountable. As collaborators we will be responsive and will achieve more together. We will foster civic engagement and social responsibility that supports and enhances education, research, service-learning, culture, and quality of life on and beyond our campus environments in Welsh and English.
We are passionate about promoting a culture and scholarship of environmental stewardship, living in harmony, and caring for the world in ways that meet our economic, social, environmental, and cultural needs. Underpinned by our world-renowned research, we will support the development of Wales as a bilingual learning country with a knowledge driven economy for the benefit of the world and future generations.
As a place of academic endeavour, innovation, and transformation, we are driven to help enrich society. We are committed to excellence at all levels of the educational and creative experience and will support everyone in our University community to achieve their dreams and fulfil their potential.
And their objectives (goals) are clear, and measurable. Importantly, there is also recognition that there is a need to retain ‘some degree of flexibility to remain relevant in an ever-changing political and operating environment’:
- Improved performance in respected rankings that align to our mission, vision, and values
- Improve graduate skills, employment, and job creation outcomes
- Research of scale and quality that is internationally recognised and underpinned by our Global Excellence in Sustainability
- Build market share of students
- A sector-leading student experience
- Enhanced Welsh language provision
- Financially sustainable and resilient
- Strategic tertiary education partnerships across North Wales
- Deliver ambitious, transformative Campus and Digital infrastructure developments
- Increase life sciences research and innovation, underpinned by an interprofessional Health and Medical School for North Wales
Next, work through the activity below to find out more about your organisation’s higher purpose.
Activity 6 What are your organisation’s mission, vision, values and objectives?
Does your organisation have published mission, vision, values, and objectives statements? Can you get a true sense of your organisation’s ‘Why’ from them? If not how would amend them to draw out and clarify your organisation’s higher purpose?
Capture your thoughts in the text box below, and then read our feedback for this activity.
Strategy statements succinctly summarise an organisation’s strategy in a paragraph or two. According to Whittington et al. (2020), these should cover three main themes:
- The fundamental mission, vision, values, and objectives the organisation seeks (as outlined above).
- The scope or domain of the organisation’s activities (customers/clients they serve, geographic location, and extent of ‘vertical integration’ i.e., the activities they deliver themselves versus the activities they outsource or sub-contract).
- The advantages or capabilities they have to deliver all of these.
Strategies can work at many levels:
- Corporate-level: concerned with aspects of geographic scope, diversity of products/services, and how resources are allocated. So, in terms of Higher Education, this might be the overarching university strategy.
- Business-level: concerned with ‘business units’ and how they should compete in their particular markets – this could be a ‘faculty strategy’ or ‘research strategy’.
- Function-level: concerned with how components of an organisation deliver the corporate and business level strategies in terms of resources, processes, and people. This could be the ‘IT Strategy’, or ‘Teaching & Learning Strategy’ when thinking about it in an HE setting.
(Whittington et al., 2020)
Strategies can also be developed at a project (or personal) level – it is all about the scope. For projects, in a similar vein to business and function level strategies, the stronger the link or integration between a project’s ‘Why’ and the higher levels of strategy it will support, the more likely it is going to get the advocacy, and resources, it requires to succeed.