FAQ: What is the difference between Purpose and Mission?
May 08, 2020
Mission refers to a Campaign; Purpose is for the long-term.
Several business leaders also lower the bar by advancing corporate missions instead of addressing fundamentals. Mission statements focus on primary customers, products and services and geographical locations in which a company operates. They may address how a company shall operate, but not for how long and, more importantly, why it is in business in the first place.
Sure enough, some mission statements are given an ambitious twist (with references to, say, “excellence”) in an effort to make them appear aspirational and, therefore, permanent. Strictly speaking, this is a misnomer, because any decision on operational issues can commit a company to a Campaign but not for ever; especially these days.
Worse, more often than not, Mission Statements breed cynicism, with corporate mission seen as just another management tool, a way of just getting from here to there.
P.S. More on mission statements on page 53 of my book, “PURPOSE: The Starting Point of Great Companies”.