Evaluating Vision and Mission Statements and Strategic Objectives

Strategic objectives of an organization specify the milestones the organization will work towards to address its strategic priorities. Strategic objectives help set an organization’s long-term goals and guide resource allocations and redistributions. A mission statement of an organization defines the purpose or broader goal for an organization to be in existence. It describes what an organization does. It is like a guiding light for the organization. Whereas, a vision statement describes where the organization wants to see itself in the future. It is a statement about what an organization wants to become in the future.

In this essay, we will discuss what makes good strategic objectives, vision, and mission statements and also analyze the vision statement, mission statement, and strategic objectives of the United States Army.

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Evaluating Strategic Objectives of Schurz Communications – The strategic objectives of an organization called Schurz Communications state:

·         Actively will pursue a strategy to acquire several high quality print and electronic properties that augment our diverse media mix.

·         Will dynamically grow revenues to meet its long-term revenue goals.

·         Properties will be expected to improve performance to ensure sustained growth.

·         Will invest in, attract, and retain top talent in the communication we serve.

 

Criteria for good strategic objectives – We will now evaluate these strategic objectives to see if they can be called good strategic objectives and whether they meet the criteria for good objectives. First, what are the characteristics of good objectives? The basic characteristics of good strategic objectives are that they should be SMART, i.e.

·         Specific – Describes exactly what the aims of the organization are.

·         Measurable – Quantifies the expected results.

·         Actionable – Describes the actions that the organization will take.

·         Realistic – They are extremely challenging, yet they are achievable.

·         Time-based – Have a deadline within which they have to be completed.

·         Good strategic objectives should encompass the expectations and requirements of all the major stakeholders of the organization, including employees. The strategic objectives should always begin with action verbs like “to have,” “to be,” “to become,” or “to achieve” and end with a specific year by which the objective will be met.

 

·         None of the above-given objectives start with an action verb or end with the specific year by which they will be accomplished.

·         None of the objectives of Schurz Communications are specific. They don’t specify exactly what the organization wishes to achieve in the future. For instance, the objective, “Will dynamically grow revenues to meet its long-term revenue goals.” does not specify how the organization will grow its revenues or what its long-term revenue goals are.

·         Only the first and fourth strategic objectives are actionable. These objectives specify the actions that the organization will take to achieve its goals. Thus, these two objectives satisfy the criteria of “actionability.”

·         As regards the criteria of being realistic, all the objectives except the fourth one seem to be realistic. The first three objectives have set realistic aims, which is possible for the organization to achieve. The fourth objective seems unrealistic as the firm may not find it that easy or cheap to attract top talent in the business.

·         None of the objectives are time-based. None of these specify a deadline by which they have to be completed.

·         None of the above objectives address the expectations of the stakeholders of the company or the employees, so they can be said to have failed on this count.

·         Lastly, none of the objectives begins with an action verb or start with a phrase such as “to achieve,” “to become,” etc.

Thus, the strategic objectives of Schurz Communications cannot be called examples of good strategic objectives as they do not meet all the criteria for good strategic objectives.

 

Now, we will evaluate the mission statement of an organization, which is given below:

Advancing technology and science through flight. Perform flight research and technology integration to revolutionize aviation and pioneer aerospace technology. Validate space exploration concepts. Conduct airborne remote sensing and science missions. Support operations of the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station — for NASA and the nation.

 

Criteria for a good mission statement – Let’s see what the characteristics of a good mission statement are:

·         A good mission statement should have a statement of purpose of the organization, i.e. what needs does the organization exist to address.

·         It should have a statement of business, i.e. what are we doing (activities or programs) to address those needs.

·         It should also describe “who buys it, and why?” This means, it should describe who are the customers of the organization.

·         It should specify what are the values that are shared by the organization.

·         A mission statement must be broad enough to allow for diversity and it must leave room for product expansion.

·         At the same time, a mission statement should be focused on the company’s products.

·         A good mission statement should carry a reference to the stockholders of the company.

·         A good mission statement should carry information about the area of specialization of the company and the future direction of the company.

 

The above given mission statement describes the products and services provided by the organization and it also specifies who the customers of these goods are. The customers are NASA and the nation. So, the above mission statement satisfies this criterion. It also describes what are the activities being carried out by the organization to satisfy the business needs. It doesn’t describe the values or beliefs of the organization. So, it does not fulfill this criterion. The statement speaks of “revolutionize aviation and pioneer aerospace technology” and “validate space exploration concepts.” Thus, it allows space for product expansion as it does not limit its product description to one particular object. If at a later date the company wants to add new products to its portfolio, it can do so without effecting the mission statement. At the same time, it focuses on the company’s products “conduct airborne remote sensing and science missions,” and it specially focuses on “support operations of the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station.” The above mission statement does not carry a reference to the stockholders of the company. Thus, this mission statement does not hold true on this criterion. This mission statement carries information about the area of specialization of the company, which is aviation and aerospace technology. It also carries information about the future direction of the company. Thus, this mission statement holds true for these criteria also.

Strategic objectives of the US Army
Let’s now study the strategic objectives of the US Army and evaluate if they fulfill the criteria for good strategic objectives.
·         Protect the United States against external attacks and aggression.

·         Prevent conflict and surprise attack..

·         Prevail against adversaries.

 

Evaluating the strategic objectives of the US Army
·         All the above-given strategic objectives are specific. They state specifically what are the aims of the US Army.

·         The above-given strategic objectives are not measurable. They do not define in exact terms what the measurable aims of the Army are.

·         All the above strategic objectives are actionable. They define in clear terms what actions the US Army will take.

·         The first and third objectives are realistic. But, the second objective is not realistic. It may not be possible for the US Army to always prevent conflict and surprise attacks.

·         These objectives are not time-based. None of them end with a specific date by when these objectives will be met.

·         These objectives do not address the needs of all the stakeholders of the organizations, which are the soldiers and the common citizens. Thus, they do not fulfill this criterion.

·         All of these strategic objectives begin with action verbs. Thus, they fulfill this criterion.

·         In summary, we can say that the strategic objectives of the US Army fulfill certain criteria of good objectives, like being specific, actionable, realistic, beginning with action verbs. But, they do not fulfill other criteria like being measurable, time-based, or addressing all the stakeholders of the US Army.

 

Criteria for a good vision statement – Let’s see what the characteristics of a good vision statement are. A good vision statement should be:

·         Realistic: A good vision should be based in reality to hold any significance for the organization.

·         Credible: A good vision should be credible to the employees, the stakeholders, and the customers.

·         Future: A good vision statement is about the future of the company, not the present. It involves thinking about what the future of the company will be like.

·         A good vision is appropriate for the organization and for the times. It should be consistent with the values and culture of the organization.

·         A good vision clarifies purpose and direction. It clarifies what the organization wants to achieve.

·         A good vision is ambitious. It should not be commonplace. It should set ambitious, difficult to achieve goals for the employees.

·         A good vision attracts commitment and energizes people. This is one of the primary reasons for having a vision for an organization: its motivational effect.

·         A good vision statement provides a bridge between the present and the future. It is easy for an organization to get caught up in the crises of the present and to lose sight of where you were heading. A good vision can orient an organization on the future and provide positive direction.

·         A good vision is articulated well and should be easily understood. In order to motivate individuals, and clearly point toward the future, a vision must be articulated so people understand it.

 

Vision statement of the US Army
The organization and training of its forces, innovation and adaptability of its leaders, and design and practices of its institutional support structures will keep the Army relevant to the challenges posed by the complex global security environment. The Army will be ready to promptly provide combatant commanders with the capabilities – principally well-led, well-trained, and well-equipped forces-required to achieve all operational objectives. To realize this vision, the Army is positioning itself for the security environment in which it will operate for the foreseeable future. It is transforming its mindset, capabilities, effectiveness, efficiency, training, education, leadership, and culture. Throughout this transformation, the American Soldier will remain the Army’s primary focus-the centerpiece of Army organizations.

 

Evaluating the vision statement of the US Army
·         The vision statement of the US Army is realistic. It says “the Army will be ready to promptly provide combatant commanders with the capabilities” which is a realistic statement to make.

·         The above vision statement is credible to the employees and the stakeholders.

·         This vision statement is about the future of the US Army, not the present. It states how the Army will equip itself in order to meet the challenges of the future.

·         This vision statement is consistent with the values and culture of the Army. It says that the Army will adapt to meet the demands of the future, but throughout this change the American soldier will remain the primary focus of the Army.

·         This vision statement clarifies purpose and focus. It has a clear direction. It specifies what the Army wants to achieve.

·         This vision statement is ambitious. It is not commonplace. It sets ambitious, difficult to achieve goals for the Army. It states “the organization and training of its forces, innovation and adaptability of its leaders, and design and practices of its institutional support structures will keep the Army relevant to the challenges posed by the complex global security environment.”

·         This vision statement has a motivational effect on the Army soldiers and leaders. It states “the Army is positioning itself for the security environment in which it will operate for the foreseeable future.” This and other statements will have a motivational effect on the Army employees.

·         The vision statement orients the Army towards the future. It tries to envision what the future of the Army will be like and what steps the US Army is taking to gear up for the future.

·         It is articulated well so that even the simplest person can understand it. It is phrased in simple and not a complex language making it easily understandable to everyone.

·         In summary, we can say that the vision statement of the US Army fulfills all the criteria for a good vision statement. It is realistic, credible, relates to the future, is consistent with the values and culture of the Army, clarifies purpose and focus, and is ambitious.

 

Mission Statement of the US Army
The Army mission is to provide to combatant commanders the forces and capabilities necessary to execute the National Security, National Defense, and National Military Strategies. Army forces provide the capability-by threat, force, or occupation-to promptly gain, sustain, and exploit comprehensive control over land, resources, and people. This land power capability compliments the other Services’ capabilities. Furthermore, the Army is charged to provide logistic and other executive agent functions to enable the other Services to accomplish their missions.

Evaluating the mission statement of the US Army
·         The mission statement of the US Army describes for what reason the Army exists. It describes what are functions that the Army performs.

·         It also describes what are the activities and programs that the Army carries out to perform these tasks. The activities are “to promptly gain, sustain, and exploit comprehensive control over land, resources, and people.” Thus, it is true on this criterion.

·         This mission statement does not describe the values of the US Army. Thus, it does not fulfill this criterion.

·         It does not specify who are the end-users of the Army capabilities. Thus, it does not fulfill the criterion of specifying “who buys it? and why?”

·         This mission statement is broad enough for diversity and adding new products. It states “the Army mission is to provide to combatant commanders the forces and capabilities necessary to execute the National Security, National Defense, and National Military Strategies.” Thus, new tasks that can be performed by the Army in addition to its existing tasks can be added without the need to change the mission statement.

·         At the same time, this mission statement is focused on the tasks performed by the Army. It states, “Army forces provide the capability-by threat, force, or occupation-to promptly gain, sustain, and exploit comprehensive control over land, resources, and people.” In this statement, it focuses on the specific tasks performed by the Army.

·         It carries information about the area of specialization of the Army. It states “provide to combatant commanders the forces and capabilities necessary to execute the National Security, National Defense, and National Military Strategies.”

·         But, it does not carry information about the future direction of the Army. Thus, it does not fulfill this criterion.

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Conclusion – We conclude from the above study that the vision and mission statements and the strategic objectives of an organization play a big role in shaping the present and future performance of an organization. Several criteria need to be fulfilled to write good vision and mission statements and strategic objectives. The vision and mission statements and the strategic objectives of the US Army fulfill some of the necessary criteria, while they do not fulfill many other necessary criteria.
References
(2005). Baldridge Glossary HD: Strategic Objectives. Retrieved April 21, 2006 from

http://www.baldrige21.com/05%20GLOSSARY/05%20G%20Strategic%20Objectives.html

Vadim Kotelnikov. (2006). Setting Objectives and Planning. Retrieved April 19, 2006 from

http://www.1000ventures.com/business_guide/mgmt_setting_objectives.html

Strategic Vision. Strategic Leadership and Decision Making. Retrieved April 20, 2006 from

http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/ndu/strat-ldr-dm/pt4ch18.html

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