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How Important are Mission and Vision in Cultural Transformation?

Question

How important are mission and vision statements in a cultural transformation? Is it imperative that all employees know and understand the organization’s mission? Should everyone be able to articulate the vision?

Answer

I think it is important, but disagree with the way most mission and vision statements are written. Sadly, in too many organizations, staff members have heard or seen these statements for years, but are unsure of how they directly apply to their lives. For this reason, many organizations are moving to a simple vision that expresses the organization’s desire to be “a great place for patients to get care, physicians to practice, and employees to work.”

When I was a hospital CEO, I was most successful when I described this vision in terms of the Five Pillars (People, Service, Quality, Finance, Growth) and supported the vision with clear goals. I then used the employee-driven standards of behavior to help the organization attain the vision. The continuous steps are there to connect behaviors and actions back to organizational goals and standards. This connection makes all the difference.

In summary, it’s more important that employees feel they are living a cultural transformation than articulating the vision statement. When a leader asks employees what has changed and they can say they understand the direction of the organization, have noticed low performers no longer work there, or have the supplies and equipment they need, then the leader knows the organization is living its mission and vision.