A vision statement is an expression of where an organization wants to be in the future (Kenny, 2014). The statement comprises a brief group of not more than 15 words that summates the desired future outcome (Spearmon, 2013). The statement should be simple, well thought out and easily remembered. It should not be too complex such that some stakeholders find a difficulty in discerning it (Kenny, 2014). This statement is normally prepared by the top management of an organization to galvanize the rest of the stakeholders towards a common goal (Spearmon, 2013). It briefly outlines the key success goal for the organization. This provides a clear pathway in terms of how an organization should move forward. When other stakeholders get such a clear message, the speed and precision of an organization's activities become optimal (Spearmon, 2013). An example of a good vision statement is one of Ericsson; "the prime driver in an all-communicating world" (Kenny, 2014). Ericsson is an international provider of software, communication equipment, and services (Kenny, 2014). Their vision statement is clearly in tandem with their primary activities. The company envisions a future where they dominate service provision in the global communication industry. This message is simple and easily interpreted by all relevant stakeholders.
A mission statement defines the nature, objectives, and roles of an organization (Mary, 2013). It differs from the vision statement in that a vision statement details a future position, while the mission statement outlines current objectives (Kenny, 2014). A clear mission statement helps to create a singular focus on the employees and the management (Mary, 2013). Mission statements help to achieve an organization's goals via internal and external influences. Internally, the statement informs employee decision making and also guides strategic management (Kenny, 2014). Externally, the statements act as a way of creating a positive image for the organization thus potentially attract more investors (Kenny, 2014). Some examples of mission statements include Nike's "To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world" (Post, 2017). The statement demonstrates a clear objective of manufacturing athletes' gear. The mission also shows their desire to inspire athletes through their innovative products. Another example is Starbucks mission statement, "To inspire and nurture the human spirit - one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time" (Post, 2017). This shows the company's aim to give its customers fulfilling individual experiences from its coffee.
There are five key elements of effective vision and mission statements. The first element is a function (Dontigney, 2015). An organization must be able to outline its main objectives in the statements using clear and comprehensible language (Dontigney, 2015). Another element is target consumers (Dontigney, 2015). It can be specific groups such as athletes or regions such as America. It is important to identify the target consumers in a mission/vision statement especially when using it as a Public Relations tool. The statements should also contain the organization's values to create a good image (Dontigney, 2015). For instance, Nike and Starbucks mission statements both show their value of inspiring their target consumers (Post, 2017). An organization's technology is also a key element that should be directly or indirectly implied in their vision/mission statements (Dontigney, 2015). Nike's mission statement, for instance, implies the use of advanced technology because of hinting at innovation. The fifth key element is the image of the organization (Dontigney, 2015).
A code of ethics is a set of rules aimed at providing guidance to influence quotidian decision making in an organization (EthicsResourceCenter, 2001). The code reinforces an organization's objectives, beliefs, and principles (EthicsResourceCenter, 2001). There are several purposes of a code of ethics in a certain organization or profession. The most important one, however, is to empower staff to make better choices, especially when faced with ethical dilemmas in their line of work (EthicsResourceCenter, 2001). Another main purpose of the code is to act as a medium of fostering trust between an organization and its stakeholders, both internally and externally. A code of ethics is a useful tool for an organization because it normally targets all stakeholders (Marques, 2012). Customers get to see detailed information on how an organization will deal with them under ethical guidelines. This builds positive publicity. The leadership and staff are given guidelines on how to approach gray situations when serving customers or interacting with each other (Marques, 2012). It minimizes conflict, builds trust and improves an organization's efficiency (Marques, 2012).
The main elements of a good code of ethics are the title, leadership letter, table of contents, introduction, statement of values, code provisions, and resources (EthicsResourceCenter, 2001). The title should be memorable, attention-grabbing, and summative of the entire code. It should influence the reader to have ethical behavior. The leadership letter should include the background of developing the code, reasons for the code's focus and source of input. A table of contents facilitates easy navigation for the reader. The introduction details what may have been left out in the leadership letter, especially the scope and jurisdiction of the code. A statement of value explains the benefits of the key values focused on in the code. The code provisions section is the body of the code where different topics are addressed according to the intended scope of the code. Finally, there is an information and resources section that outlines additional references which may be valuable for a reader who wants to carry out further investigation into a particular topic (EthicsResourceCenter, 2001).
A company's code of ethics is mainly derived from its vision and mission statements (Kenny, 2014). As stated earlier, vision and mission statements indicate a company's objectives, beliefs, principles, and values. There is a need for any company to maintain its value system throughout its lifespan. This ideal situation is challenged by the fact that humans are different hence have contrasting beliefs and values (Marques, 2012). A code of ethics is a useful tool to help an organization safely navigate anticipated ethical dilemmas (Marques, 2012). This enables a company to execute its mission and achieve its vision while maintaining a healthy environment.
Preparation of vision and mission statements is just good to talk. Real change is seen when an organization stays true to its pronouncements. This is where leadership comes in. the leaders of an organization should first demonstrate by example that they adhere to the organization's principles in their actions (Marques, 2012). This effect will then trickle down to the lower cadres of staff. Communication is also key in driving implementation hence the management should ensure the company's vision, mission, and ethical guidelines are clearly communicated to all stakeholders (Spearmon, 2013). Finally, the hiring managers should carry out due diligence on the background of staff before hiring them to ascertain that they have a commendable ethical reputation.
Dontigney, E. (2015). 9 Characteristics of an Effective Mission Statement. Retrieved from Chron: www.smallbusiness.chron.com/9-characteristics-effective-mission-statement-18142.html
EthicsResourceCenter. (2001). Code of ethics toolkit: A guide to developing your organization's code of ethics. Retrieved from Society for Human Resource Management Website: http://www.shrm.org/about/Documents/organization-coe.pdf
Kenny, G. (2014, September 3). Your Company's Purpose Is Not Its Vision, Mission, or Values. Retrieved from Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2014/09/your-companys-purpose-is-not-its-vision-mission-or-values
Marques, J. (2012). Ethics: Walking the Talk. The Journal for Quality and Participation, 4.
Mary, K. (2013). Mission Statements--Rhetoric, Reality, or Road Map to Success. Knowledge Quest, 30-36.
Post, J. (2017, May 3). What is a Mission Statement? Retrieved from Business News Daily: https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/3783-mission-statement.html
Spearmon, S. (2013, October 14). Your Company Vision: If It's Complicated, It Shouldn't Be. Retrieved from Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/johnkotter/2013/10/14/the-reason-most-company-vision-statements-arent-effective/amp/
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