Leadership Training 2019
Organization You’re In
by Kimberly Kayler
The core foundation of any association rests on its vision
and mission statements. However, too many
associations lack these practical tools. Or, even if they
do exist, they are poorly written or lack execution. This is
unfortunate, as well-written mission and vision statements
have the ability to drive every decision made, especially
regarding revenue, profit, and people productivity.
Profit? Productivity? But ACI is a nonprofit with chapters
comprised of volunteers. We aren’t concerned with profit and
productivity, you might say. Wrong! Even as a nonprofit,
leadership must look at all activities in terms of the expense—
not only actual money input but also time. Solid vision and
mission statements are driven by an organization’s core
values. These values shape interactions with members,
prospects, vendors, and stakeholders.
Do You Have a Vision?
A vision statement is an organization’s way of projecting
its aspirational future. It is a one-sentence statement that
describes a clear, long-term desired change that results from
the organization’s work. Developing a vision statement can be
as easy as reflecting on where the world can improve and
asking what if? It’s okay if the vision seems lofty. It’s better to
be overly aspirational than to envision too little.
The best vision statements leave a deep impact. Habitat for
Humanity’s vision is clear: “A world where everyone has a
decent place to live.” The most memorable statements are
simple and derivative of the core values of the brand.
And Now Your Mission
A thoughtful mission statement complements the vision
statement. The mission statement is a tool to help guide
decisions about priorities, actions, and responsibilities, and it
communicates the organization’s fundamental objectives.
The mission is tactical. It articulates what the organization
does to get closer to its vision of the future. It answers: Who are
you serving? What are you providing? How do you provide it?
Like a strong vision statement, the mission statement is
clear and concise (simple language, typically five to 10 words
long). The mission statement is more focused than the vision
statement because every organization has a limited population
that it serves. In developing the mission statement, it is
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important to reflect on who that population is. Where does
your organization have an impact? What transformation are
you trying to accomplish? These questions help to narrow the
scope of an effective mission statement.
The best mission statements come from companies who
know what they’re all about. TED’s mission is conveyed in
just two words: “Spreading Ideas.” The style of the mission
statement can vary greatly to fit the brand, and the best
mission statements even enhance the portrayal of the brand.
So how does your chapter craft these statements or edit
existing ones? For the vision statement, begin by brainstorming
what the world would look like if your chapter really made an
impact. Think big. Then think bigger. Look for common
themes from the brainstorming session to assemble a statement
that is lofty. Remember, lofty is not only okay—it is encouraged.
The same process works for mission statement
development. Brainstorm how you are going to accomplish
the vision or at least take steps toward it. How do you do
business? Don’t list tactics—rather, outline how you do it.
Let the drafts sit for a week. When you read them with
fresh eyes, what works and what is missing? Then try the
statements out on some members to see whether they resonate.
Once the statements are codified, announce your vision and
mission. But beyond communicating them, your vision and
mission should be used as decision-making tools. For
example, when an opportunity is presented to your Board,
evaluate it in terms of your mission. Does it fit? If it doesn’t,
you’ll need to make a really strong case as to why you should
do it—and does that mean your mission changes as well?
Selected for reader interest by the editors.
Kimberly Kayler is President of Advancing
Organizational Excellence (AOE), a fully
owned subsidiary of ACI. The AOE team
provides association management as well
as consulting services to public and private
entities. Services range from marketing,
social media, member and customer
relations, accounting, and HR to training.