guiding leaders of volunteers to feed the passion of those who choose to serve


the importance of organizational vision, mission, values and competencies

Every organization exists for a purpose.  Some organizations and their leaders skillfully position their reason for existence central to everything they do.  The organization’s purpose engages people.  It drives all daily activity within and for the organization.  The purpose helps to define the organization’s culture. 

Other organizations have invested time and resources to define their reason to be, only to allow the words to be framed and hung on a wall, overlooked by leaders in the bustle of everyday activity. 

The remaining organizations have not recently, or ever, invested the effort to define the purposes for their existence.  For most organizations, these defined elements are referred to as the vision, mission, values and competencies.    

Leaders of volunteers bear responsibility to guide and shape the culture of the organization.  Author, speaker, training and culture analyst
Jim Knight’s book, Culture That Rocks, defines “an organization’s culture as simply ‘a collection of individual behaviors.’”  By leveraging the organization’s defined elements, leaders connect and galvanize individual behaviors to form the organization’s culture.  A deeper understanding
of these elements is essential to leaders playing their part in being a culture creator.

The first element in the V-M-V-C model is the organizational vision.  The vision clearly states the direction of an organization, their magnetic north.  Simply put, the vision reflects where the organization desires to go.  A concise example comes from the Feeding America vision—“A hunger-free America.”  These four words leave no question regarding the desired end-state for the organization’s work.   

The second element of the model is an organization’s mission.  The mission is similar, and connected to, its vision statement.  The vision defines where the organization wants to go, and the mission clarifies how it is going to get there.  The mission statement is a roadmap for reaching the organization’s desired destination.  A clearly written example of a mission statement comes from the Girl Scouts of the USA:  “Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.”  Another example, shared by a regional chapter of a professional development association, employs three words for its mission:  “Inform, Inspire, Involve.” 

The next element of the V-M-V-C model is the organization’s set of values.  Values shift the focus from the greater organization to the individual.  Values define who individuals need to be to achieve the organization’s vision and/or live out its mission.  Values articulate a set of desirable traits or characteristics that people can exemplify in their faithful service to the organization and its cause.            

The last of the model’s four elements are competencies.  An organization’s competency framework centers even more on the individual.  Competencies define what each person must do to live the organization’s values, journey along the mission and strive to attain its vision.  Competencies are action oriented.  Competencies are behavioral, meaning that an individual will demonstrate them by what they say or do.  Competencies are appropriately included in the organization’s performance assessment tools.  Organizations should ensure that all measured performance is behavioral based.

A clearly expressed vision, mission, set of values and competencies is vital to an organization’s ability to position itself in the marketplace.  Organizations need not have all four components.  Many organizations choose to have only select elements of the V-M-V-C model.  Whatever pieces of the model are selected to establish, leaders should strategize how they will position the elements so they become a vital part of the organization’s momentum.