Philosophy, mission and vision statements



Part 1
REVISING institutional statements to articulate meaningful response to Asean and globalization likely preoccupy our HEIs these days. Our young academics have remarked that some of the mission and vision statements that they have read are similar—no difference whatsoever.

Herewith is a review of the nature of these statements—the philosophy, vision, mission, goals and objectives—which program accreditors consider as a guide to an institution’s strategic planning. Each statement has its own function in the planning and goal-setting process. Important to all of these statements are the end results, which explain why at times they are used interchangeably. These statements are “useful in reaching an agreement within an institution of commonly desired results of institutional efforts.” They foster a “unity of understanding of an administrative program to achieve the desired outcomes.” Thus, it is important for everyone in the institution— from the regents, officials, academics and the staff to have a functioning understanding of these statements. < contents>.

Philosophy. The beliefs, concepts and principles of an institution are stated in its philosophy. In some HEIs, the institution’s philosophy is expressed in its value statements or core values, setting “the ethical tone for the institution.” <…/missionvisionvaluesoforganizations.html> It serves as guideline “for the way the institution conducts its operations” that is, in “the processes used to achieve an institution’s mission and vision.”

Mission statement. A mission statement defines what an organization is, why it exists, its reason for being, <> its purpose and primary objectives. Its “core purpose and focus” is the starting point in strategic planning and goal-setting process. A mission statement should be broad enough to allow for creative growth. It should clearly state the institution’s academic and operational assurances, as well as its commitment to its students and community. <>.A mission statement “normally remains unchanged over time.” But if circumstances dictate, an institution may revise its mission statement to reflect institutional “priorities and methods to accomplish its vision.” Our source points out that, “properly crafted mission statements serve as filters to separate what is important from what is not.” Such statements should “clearly state which markets will be served and how, and communicate a sense of intended direction to the entire organization.”

Vision. A vision statement provides “a clear, comprehensive photograph of an (institution) at some point in the future,” defining the direction it should undertake to achieve such.”>. It guides and challenges how its members are “expected to behave and which inspires them to give their best” to attain the desirable future. Moreover, the vision statement also shapes the understanding of the institution’s stakeholders and provides the reason for their wanting to be identified with the institution.< oforganizations.html>. An institutional vision statement should be such as to clearly declare its position and reputation for excellence of its academic programs both in and out-country.

Vision and mission. Vision and mission have different perspectives. A mission refers to the reason and focus of an institution’s existence. A vision describes the institution “as it would appear in a future successful state.”<…/isthereadifferencebetweenacompany’smission, visionandvalue…>. Mission answers the question “Why do we exist?” Vision answers the question “What will the future look like as we fulfill our mission? What will be different?” While mission is about today, vision is about the future, what we will become.“Mission and vision statements (should) result from a collaborative, inclusive development process that may include students, parents, and community members, besides administrators and teachers.” Thus, we may say that “the mission statement supports the vision and serves to communicate purpose and direction to employees, customers, vendors and other stakeholders” Grant-funded school-improvement projects and accreditation process may also require an HEI to…modify existing statements.” < mission-and-vision/>.

Value statements. An institution’s basic philosophy, principles and ideals are expressed in its value statements. They compose an internalized framework, a “moral compass” shared among institutional members, such as “what is good or bad, what is desirable or undesirable influencing behavior and attitude toward one another.” They guide the perspective of the organization and “its actions…setting the ethical tone for the institution and acted upon by the leadership.” They define the institutional processes used to achieve the mission and vision, guiding the institution in the decision-making process. <>.“When institutional members subscribe to a common set of values, the organization appears united when it deals with various issues and sends a message to its stakeholders.”<>. Since an institution’s core values define “that a specific mode of conduct is preferable to an opposite or contrary mode of conduct,” it establishes a standard against which actions can be assessed. It is important that institutional members from the trustees down to the minor staff have “a functioning understanding and a long-term commitment of an institution’s core values.”<…>

Goals and objectives. While goals are usually broad general expressions of the guiding principles and aspirations of an institution, expressing the expected or desired outcomes of a planning process, “objectives are the precise targets…necessary to attain the goals.” Hence, are more detailed and are “quantitatively or qualitatively measurable results of an institution’s strategic plan.” An educational institution has to “focus its objectives as directly as possible on student learning outcomes (instruction) in order to be perceived as valid by decision makers.”<>. Besides instruction, HEIs should include as well the end results they want in research, service (community extension) and production. Let’s sample actual vision and mission statements next week.

The author, one of the country’s most accomplished institutional management experts, held top academic positions at Xavier University (the Ateneo de Cagayan) before heading chartered institutions. She attended topmost universities in the Philippines, Germany, Great Britain and Japan. An internationalization consultant on call, she is journal copy editor of, and Graduate Studies professorial lecturer at, the Liceo de Cagayan University. Awards include a Lifetime Professional Achievement from the Commission on Higher Education and recently, the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (Verdienstorden der Bundesrepublik Deutschland).


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  1. Vision, mission and key goal statements are important elements to help create and direct
    1) Culture
    2) Ethics
    3) Rules of engagement
    4) Market position
    5) Priority of people, profit , product , places

    Your list highlights many area that are discussed with a need for change. My position on this is as follows:
    Culture evolves and so must the vision, mission.
    Law and regulation changes and so this might impact the vision and mission.
    Technology evolves – guess what , the vision and mission might need to change.
    Peoples skills change so the vision and mission and goals may need to reflect that.

    Let us look at the phrase of “pivot” within business model context. This open minded attitude will help a business thrive and survive.

    One of the most common over looked points by recruiters is alignment of personal values, visions and missions and goals to the companies own vision mission and goals and values.

  2. Of all organizations, the most prolific in terms of crafting vision and mission statements are educational institutions. They are also the most demonstrative and flashy when it comes to “cascading” the vision and mission statements, displaying these in the most prominent areas of the school, in lobbies, and entrance gates. Even a few questions about them are included in term exams for bonus points, and students memorize them to fever pitch when accreditation time comes.

    If we were to pick a hundred vision/mission statement from different schools at random, the theme and language will be largely similar (academic excellence, quality education, globally competent, morally upright, etc.). Yet schools are the worst offenders when it comes to honoring and living their avowed vision and mission. All of them want academic excellence and quality instruction, yet many still have obsolete library collections, or are not spending on meaningful faculty development. Many schools still require full-time faculty to have 24 units load, when clearly the best schools do not require as much. How many are espousing research but are not providing resources for it? Many still lack the imagination to challenge the common template of de-loading in exchange for output.How many are still stuck in the lecture mode? How many have slow or no internet connection. Check any school that fits these descriptions, and it is almost certain it has a beautiful vision/mission statement elegantly framed somewhere.

    Vision and mission statements crafted by a committee to meet an enforced requirement can never inspire, no matter how much another committee of accomplished English teachers refine their prose and language.The author is correct is saying that these must be internalized and inspire members to give their best. The most powerful vision spawns a credible mission. They usually tend to have always been there in the hearts and minds of founders, owners,or the highest governing bodies, only needing articulation. Sometimes one or two sentences would be enough. People in the organization will have no difficulty embracing powerful and credible vision statements because they can feel their manifestations in every little thing the organization does. Visions are embraced because the members believe in them, not because the accreditors said so, but because they know these are genuine, not just the product of sophisticated wordsmiths.

    Crafting the vision statement as clearly and as powerfully as possible should be the owner’s or founder’s exclusive responsibility. They are powerful if lived, but can also be a big joke if prepared just for show.