Category Archives: mission and vision

Where’s the meaning?

where-is-the-meaningIf the people on your team have to ask “Where is the meaning in my work?” something is wrong!

In his book  Meaning, Inc. , Gurnek Bains ecourages leaders to bring the organization’s mission and vision to life through meaningful work. Between actual work time and digital connections people spend over half of their waking hours “at work.” Understanding how those work activities are making a contribution to customers (students at Minnesota State), the community or larger society will make work more meaningful.

While each person on your team has their own personal values and beliefs about what is important, there are actions that leaders can take to strengthen meaning at work.  Bains identifies the following leadership activities that help create more meaningful work:

  • Discussing and supporting personal stretch goals that are related to the vision.
  • Focusing on the unique strengths and talents that each person brings to work.
  • Documenting, evaluating, providing feedback and highlighting each person’s work and contribution to group efforts.
  • Clearly linking individual and team work activities and accomplishments to wider issues.
  • Ensuring that short-term goals don’t conflict with the deeper organizational purpose.
  • Role modeling stated ideals.

Making sure your people know the difference their work makes in the lives of other people builds meaning. And meaning is powerful.

Todd Thorsgaard

Demonstrating the vision

planeLast week I was on a United Airlines flight to visit family in Colorado. As I was settling in, the usual voice started giving instructions. But then I heard this: “Hi, I’m your captain. I always like to greet the passengers and welcome them to the flight.” He told us about his background, his co-pilot’s background and the fact that they were friends who enjoyed flying together. He told us that the weather was choppy over Denver and they were taking an alternate route to avoid the worst turbulence.

He went on for at least 5 minutes, and people actually applauded at the end.

Afterwards, several passengers commented that they had never been on a flight before where the pilot personally welcomed people and told us what to expect. That pilot was visibly demonstrating United’s commitment to good customer service and safe travel.

It doesn’t take a lot of time or effort for leaders to show commitment to an organization’s mission and vision. And the effects can be powerful. When have you seen this in action?  What could you do?

Dee Anne Bonebright


Seeing the Future Through Different Sets of Eyes

Creating or rewriting a vision statement can be an interesting and revealing process for an organization, with the reward of a tangible product at the end.  Purposefully taking the time to think about the future,  what your organization could look like in 5, 10 or more years, and dreaming of both achievable and more challenging goals can spur employees to really think about the company’s values, their own values, and how to reflect them  through their work lives.

However, that view of the future could look very different to an executive or mid-level leader than your frontline staff, team leaders and individual contributors.

Below are vision statement examples from a few well-known non-profits.  Can you think of some differences in understanding and perception of these, how they might be internalized, then explained to people outside of your organization, based on your employees’ various roles?

Creative Commons: Our vision is nothing less than realizing the full potential of the Internet — universal access to research and education, full participation in culture — to drive a new era of development, growth, and productivity.

Goodwill: Every person has the opportunity to achieve his/her fullest potential and participate in and contribute to all aspects of life.

Habitat for Humanity: A world where everyone has a decent place to live.


Taking the time to think about your vision statement’s view from all the angles and all the distances can go a long ways in increasing understanding and support from all your organization’s employees.

Cindy Schneider

Cindy supports the Talent Management Division’s work in the HR Division at the Minnesota State system office.  She will complete her degree in Technical Communication & Professional writing this December.