What is the Difference Between Mission, Vision, Purpose & Values?

Your mission, vision, purpose and values play an extremely important role in strategy development and in shaping the culture of your organisation.

There is, however, often confusion about what these terms mean because they are often used in different contexts. This means that they can take on different meanings and even the same meaning in some cases.

The confusion about the meaning of business terms such as vision, mission, purpose and values occurs because they are often used in different contexts. As a result they take on different meanings and even the same meaning in some cases.

Much of this confusion can be avoided if these terms are clearly defined and agreed within the organisation.

This short article summarises the meanings of each of these terms to ensure that everyone is on the ‘same page’ as the organisation moves forward.


A Mission statement describes what an organisation does and for whom in an inspirational way. It should be based on the organisation’s strategy, setting out its aims, philosophy and values . The mission should describe what business the organisation is in (and what it isn’t) both now and in the future. It basically answers the question “what do we do?”

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The vision statement describes the organisations desired future state. It is what the organisations executives envision the future of the organisation to be at some pre-defined point in the future.  For example, where will the organisation be in five years and beyond. It should serve as a guiding beacon that describes what the organisation aspires to be. It answers the question “Where do we want to go?”

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Purpose should answer the question “why do we do what we do?” or “why do we exist?”.  The answer to this question should go beyond profit margins and internal benefits. It looks towards the long-term effect the organisation wants to have on its people,  customers,  markets,  stakeholders,  community and the environment.  In other words, it should explain how people will benefit from the organisations existence.

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Business values are the guiding principles that an organisation uses to govern its actions and decisions. They are important because they  shape the culture and atmosphere of the organisation. Company values can also serve as a guide for people to make decisions that are in line with the organisation’s goals and ideals. Business values can be related to a wide range of topics, including ethics, customer service, quality, innovation, and social responsibility. They answer the question “What do we stand for?”

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In summary, mission, vision, purpose, and values are important components of an organisation’s strategic framework. The mission statement defines what an organisation does, the vision statement defines where it wants to go, the purpose statement defines why it exists, and values define how it operates. All of these elements are interrelated and should be aligned to ensure that the organisation is working towards a common goal.


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