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Vision and Mission – Fashionable words or something meaningful?

Strategic planning is regarded as the most important process in an organization. To achieve the objectives of strategic planning,  every company or organization existing today has a vision and mission statement. All the top executives, CEOs, businessmen always stress on the fact that any company or even a new startup should have a proper vision and mission statement in place before they start their operations. It is said that these statements help explain the would-be customers as well as the employees of the company as to what the company will do, how it will do and what benefits it will provide to the people.

Ok now that was too much of theory and I know its too boring. Same here!! When we started the Strategy Formulation and Implementation class this semester, I was wondering what was this subject all about. After three classes, I can say that all what we have been taught till now just seems pfaff (pronounced Phaff – basically gas as in stories and kahaniyan which everyone knows). Before you guys start saying something, I know Strategy is very very important for a company and especially for a management grad.

Vision statement basically refers to the long term vision of a company as in what is its intended objective to be 10 yrs, 20 yrs, 30 yrs or even 50 yrs from now. A mission statement indicates how an organization goes about fulfilling its mission. Ok now that sounds tooo simple na. But its not that simple seriously.

Lets discuss some of the vision and mission statements of few companies in India. Before starting, I would like to point out the fact that many companies don’t display their vision and mission on the website. To show the differences, I am taking two companies each from the aviation industry, the FMCG industry and the manufacturing industry – all of them pretty diverse sectors.

In the aviation industry, lets consider Kingfisher and Paramount. One is  known to be India’s most luxurious airline while the other has created a name for itself with the help of a unique business model of providing business class with economy class fares. Both the websites don’t show any mission. Kingfisher’s vision statement is “The Kingfisher Airlines family will consistently deliver a safe, value-based and enjoyable travel experience to all our guests.” Paramount Airways’ vision statement is “Paramount Airways will be a Premium Service Schedule Airline offering Competitive Fares, and first time Direct Services to a number of Commercial Hubs in India, connecting these to Primary Metros across the Country.  The only Airline in India to offer Full Business Class service at prices comparative to Normal Economy class fares of other Airlines. Our focus will be on unparalleled Comfort and Convenience.” If we look at the first part of Paramount’s vision as well as Kingfisher’s vision, it doesn’t give even the slightest of hints that what’s different about them i.e. the unique model in the former’s case and the luxury element in the latter’s case. Only in Paramount’s second part of the extended vision does one get to know what’s really different about them. The point I am trying to bring out is the fact that the vision is a long term objective and I really feel, it has to show the difference between companies or organizations.

In the FMCG industry, lets consider ITC and HUL – two of the biggest players today in India in every sense of the word. The websites of both the companies display both their  vision and mission statements. ITC’s vision statement is “Sustain ITC’s position as one of India’s most valuable corporations through world class performance, creating growing value for the Indian economy and the Company’s stakeholders” while its mission statement is  “To enhance the wealth generating capability of the enterprise in a globalising environment, delivering superior and sustainable stakeholder value”. HUL’s vision statement is “Our long-term success requires a total commitment to exceptional standards of performance and productivity, to working together effectively, and to a willingness to embrace new ideas and learn continuously” while its mission statement is “Unilever’s mission is to add Vitality to life. We meet everyday needs for nutrition, hygiene and personal care with brands that help people feel good, look good and get more out of life.” The difference in both ITC and HUL’s vision statements is on the fact that the former talks about creating value for the Indian Economy as well as the stakeholders while the latter is more generic. The mission statements for both these organizations differ on the fact that for ITC, enhancing the wealth generation of the enterprise is more important while for HUL its mission to add vitality to life shows that the most important thing for them are their consumers, the people to whom they cater to.

In the manufacturing industry, let us consider L & T and Jindal Steel and Power. L & T’s vision is “To be a professionally managed Indian multinational, committed to total customer satisfaction and enhancing customer value” while Jindal Steel and Power’s vision is “To strengthen India’s industrial base and improve Quality of Life through Sustainable Development approaches.” Now guys what the hell maan. Both of these are manufacturing companies but their vision seems so general that it can be used by any god damn organization in any industry in any country.

From all my examples I have not tried to say that companies shouldn’t have a vision or a mission statement. I strongly agree that it is very important to write these statements. But from my examples I have tried to point out how many companies have made these statements so generic that they lose their basic purpose. Till the point they keep doing this it will surely be a “Fashionable word” and we the “Management Grads” would be like this is just pfaff and nothing else.

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14 Comments

  1. forum

    well i love the way u ended it.u have done some good research before writing this up.well when i had this subject i literally used pfaff. and enjoyed doing it.

  2. mini

    nice article 🙂 . Very very informative 🙂

  3. mini

    nice article aseem 🙂 . Very very informative 🙂

  4. sm

    good article.

  5. Interesting article, another thing is that companies cannot possibly remain loyal to their mission and vision statements over such a long time unless they are a bit generic.

    For Eg> a company like google can start of with a statement like becoming the leader in search engines, but with diversification they have to think beyond that.

    Though for employees its essential to be able to relate to the mission and vision statement, if not short term goals must be drafted more eloquently and supersede mission and vision in priority

    • aseemrastogi2

      right pointed out Neetish…:)..thts y sometimes I wonder whether this is just to show to the public what the company may be standing for..

  6. i belong to a much older generation, who has not undergone a traditional management education.
    i am totally in sync with your thoughts, however, i am constrained to write such statements to keep up with modern management thoughts.

    • aseemrastogi2

      Would surely like to know on why are you constrained to write such statements as you have commented here?

  7. I totally agree with your views. When asked ‘what is your organization’s mission statement?’, I have seen many senior managers dive sheepishly into their files because they can’t remember the ‘exact wordings’. So the question that begs to be answered is: Are organization vision and mission statements really serving the purpose of creating identification, passion and alignment in the employees with the company’s goals? Its important that managers connect first with ‘personal mission statements’

    • aseemrastogi2

      you can surely imagine what would be the point of such statements if managers themselves dont remember anything. i can surely vouch for the fact that large percentage of employees of every organisation would either not remember nor associate themselves with these statements. so its just a marketing proposition, is’nt it?

  8. Hi Aseem,
    Hey I like your blogs. I have written a blog on a related topic ‘Mission and Vision- A bunch of meaningless words?’ Do visit
    BTW I’m just curious- how come this blog is published under the name of Yaamini Krishna on Wednesday 21st, April 2010?(http://blogs.siliconindia.com/YaaminiKrishna)

    • aseemrastogi2

      hey
      thanks for visiting and liking my blog.
      i think u have beautifully analysed this post. as for yaamini krishna’s link you gave i can only say that i am not surprised as siliconindian is famous for such plagiarism.

      shall check out ur blog and get back. 🙂

  9. TTTTTTTTTTTooooooooooooooo GOOD article
    THIS SHOULD BE ONE OF THE BEST ARTICLE I’VE READ

    • aseemrastogi2

      Thanks Kaustabh. Really nice to know that you liked my article 🙂

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