Creating or Revising Effective Mission and Vision Statements . . . Starts with Asking Questions
Posted by Karen Houston-Johnson, President, Integrated Business Resources on 4/26/2017

Just about every organization has both a mission and a vision statement.They are seen on websites, in brochures, and many times in the lobbies of the company.Ask most anyone, and they will either be able to recite the mission and vision statements or at least tell you where to find them.Yet, very often, creating effective mission and vision statements remains elusive.

Many organizations do not realize their mission and vision statements might be far off the mark and not as effective as they hoped.Often mission and vision statements are too long, cumbersome and full of jargon.While they should be used primarily for communication with staff, board of directors and other stakeholders (members), they should still be easy to read, recite, and understand.

If you have a mission or vision statement that is paragraphs long – it might be time to scale back.If you cannot easily recite the statements to someone outside the organization and have it make sense, then it falls short.If, when you recite the statements you then have to explain the jargon and no one understands what it is that the credit union does, it is time for a change.

What’s the Difference Between a Mission and Vision Statement?

A mission statement is your ‘reason for being; it is what the credit union DOES and HOW it does it.  It is the overreaching statement of purpose for the organization.  It should not be a list of services or too broad in nature.  You need to strike the right balance in summing up the credit union’s reason for being without limiting it to a detailed list of products and services.  If the geographic scope is important to your credit union or a particular cause of membership base defines the credit union, consider including these items for greater clarity.

A vision statement is WHAT the world looks like IF you achieved your mission.  For most organizations, it is an almost ‘unreachable’ goal and describes the end result that can be accomplished through the credit union’s great work.  Ideally, the vision statement should be shorter in length and much broader in scope than the mission statement.

Both statements address ‘purpose’ – the mission is the CURRENT purpose, a clear, concise, and enduring statement of the reasons for the credit union’s existence today.  The vision represents FUTURE purpose, providing a mental picture of the ambitious reality that an organization is working toward.

Timing of Reviewing and Revising

There is no set standard for reviewing and revising mission and vision statements.  However, a good standard to live by is every time you do a new Strategic Plan. If your credit union has not done a Strategic Plan, it is important to engage in strategic planning every year to three years.  That is usually the perfect time to see IF the mission and vision statements are still relevant and continue to reflect the direction and purpose of the credit union.


There are a few basic steps to creating/revising a mission and vision statement.  First, consider your latest Strategic Plan, and check to see if they are all in congruence with each other.  Next, have a serious and frank conversation about the mission and vision statements with your board of directors, other volunteers, management, and perhaps even staff.  See if they still resonate.  Do they make sense and does everyone understand them?  This simple exercise can yield a lot of valuable information about their effectiveness and what changes might need to take place.  If it IS time to review, answer the questions below.

  • Does it still define the purpose of the credit union and what you hope to accomplish?
  • Does it identify WHO or WHAT the credit union focuses on?
  • Does it explain HOW the credit union will go about accomplishing its purpose for being?

To begin creating or revision the vision statement, answer these questions.

  • Does it still describe what the world would look like IF you achieve your Mission?
  • Does it create a mental picture of what the purpose of the credit union would look like in the future?

Examples of Mission Statements

MERCK: The Mission of Merck is to provide society with superior products and services – innovations and solutions that improve the quality of life and satisfy customer needs – to provide employees with meaningful work and advancement opportunities and investors with a superior rate of return.

LOWE’S COMPANIES: Lowe’s is in the business of providing the products to help our customers build, improve and enjoy their homes.  Our goal is to out-service the competition and be our customer’s 1st choice store for their products.

ROBERT MONDAVI WINERY: By strongly adhering to our values and management philosophy, we will

  • Produce and market top quality wines providing exceptional value across the premium wine segment for our worldwide customers, and
  • Manage for the long-term to build value for our shareholders and stockholders.

Examples of Vision Statements

MICROSOFT: A computer on every desk, and in every home.

IKEA: Change for ever, the structure of the furniture market.

KOMATSU: Encircle Caterpillar

Remember to keep the statements brief, clear, and concise, as well as free from ‘jargon’.The mission and vision statements should have a flow between them.When you have your final drafts or revisions, it should be easy to ready the mission and readily understand why the credit union exists and then easily see the outcome reflected in the vision statement.


If you need assistance with Strategic Planning, Leadership and Board Development, or Management and Board Succession Planning, OnBalance is here to help you with these important initiatives as well as Strategic Planning and Succession Planning.To learn more about all of the products and services we offer visit us at  or contact Karen Houston-Johnson at, Howard Bufe at or Dean Borland at

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