I’m in the process of completely re-branding my studio and part of that process, for me, means coming up with a new vision and mission statement.
The value of mission and vision statements is a heavily debated topic. The more cynical among us might say they’re just marketing fluff for faceless corporate entities or cheesy mantras invented in a lame attempt to motivate cubicle employees.
And, unfortunately, we’ve probably all been a part of an organization at one time or another that said they stood for one thing, but their actions communicated something different.
I don’t think a business “needs” vision or mission statements, but I do think having one or both can bring focus to an organization. I, personally, feel like having a succinct vision for my studio helps me make decisions about which opportunities I pursue and which ones I let go.
Mission vs. Vision
I should start with some definitions:
I think of a vision as the lofty (perhaps even unattainable) image we have for our studios. It might even be expressed in terms of the impact we want to have on our students’ lives or on the world around us.
I think of a mission as the explanation of what we do every day in our business to move toward our vision.
Some businesses have both a mission and a vision, while others only have one or the other. Here are some examples:
Vision: ‘Inventing the future of play’
“We want to pioneer new ways of playing, play materials and the business models of play – leveraging globalisation and digitalisation…it is not just about products, it is about realising the human possibility.”
Mission: ‘Inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow’
“Our ultimate purpose is to inspire and develop children to think creatively, reason systematically and release their potential to shape their own future – experiencing the endless human possibility.”
“At IKEA our vision is to create a better everyday life for the many people. Our business idea supports this vision by offering a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them.”
(I think the first sentence sounds like a vision statement and the rest sounds like a mission statement.)
Vision: “To become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.”
Mission: “The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit.”
The Practical Side of Having a Vision/Mission
In my former multi-teacher school, part of my vision was to foster a sense of community among the students. My theory was that if they knew each other, they’d enjoy lessons more and stay around longer!
When I was asked to collaborate with a local piano store to provide a traveling teacher service, I was honored and wanted to jump on board immediately. After giving it some careful thought, though, I realized that travel teaching just didn’t fit my vision.
If my vision had been to bring lessons to as many people as possible, the collaboration may have been a great opportunity. But for my school, it would have distracted us from community-building activities.
Crafting Your Own Vision and Mission Statements
I’m sorry to say this, but your first vision and mission statements will probably be garbage. (Mine usually are, anyway.) And that’s OK!
In the same way we sight-read a new piece of music to see where we need to practice, we have to get a bad vision/mission out there and live with it for a while to see how it’s bad. 😊
I expect the vision and mission for my studio to change a lot over the first year, so for now my priority is just to get something down on paper. Once I have it written down, I make a point to revisit it regularly and hone it over time.
To help you get started, I’ve create a worksheet with a fill-in-the-blank framework. It’ll get you to that first draft in just a few minutes! You can grab the worksheet with examples here:
I think part of the reason vision and mission statements get such a bad rap is because leaders don’t always apply them in practical situations.
Here are just a few ways a vision/mission can guide decision-making:
- Look at your studio calendar – do the events on it represent the values expressed in your vision/mission?
- Look at your curriculum – does the philosophy behind it support the goals you have for your students?
- Look at your budget – are you investing in things that move you toward the long-term goals for the studio?
I hope you’ll take some time to summarize your studio vision and/or mission. If you want help going through this exercise, feel free to schedule a complimentary mini session.