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What’s the Difference Between a Company’s Purpose, Vision, Mission, and Values?

After posting about organisational purpose and profitJason asked a good question about what exactly is the difference between purpose and vision? My favourite definition of this comes from a template developed by NOBL which delineates between not only a company's purpose and vision, but also it's mission and values. And I quote:

  • Purpose: Why you choose to exist together, beyond financial gain. A good way to test whether your Purpose is meaningful is to “gut check” whether it holds true for individuals as well as the organization as a whole. It usually starts with “We believe…”
  • Vision: The difference you’ll create in your customers’ lives or the larger world when you ultimately realize your Purpose. The Vision should excite people both inside and outside the company. Try starting with “We will…”
  • Mission: An ambitious yet achievable position in the market or in your customers’ lives that recognizes your Purpose. It should make clear which business you’re in, and often starts with the phrase “Be the most…”
  • Values: The principles and values that will accelerate your progress together. These statements typically start with a verb, like “Be committed” or “Deliver excellence.” Successful values are limited (so they’re easier to remember), and written in the company’s voice.
  • Measures: Things that you can observe that indicate progress, forward or backward. Though frequently left off a Purpose statement, this may be the most useful feature, ensuring that your all of the above will be a part of daily business rather than just another poster on the wall. Look for measures that are specific and outcome-focused.

There's some examples in the template, along with a 'pressure test' against each one. Very useful.

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