Mission and Vision might be the same thing as Tactics and Strategy

Cyclist breakaway

Mission and Vision might be the same thing as Tactics and Strategy

People often get confused about the difference between a mission statement and a vision statement. I remember the teacher back in my high school ‘business principles’ class tangling themselves into knots trying to convey the functional distinction between the terms. In the end, I think they said something like: I know it when I see it.

However, I think I have it cracked. Hear me out:

The difference between a mission and vision is roughly the same as the difference between tactics and strategy.

What I mean by that is, while a mission is an objective that can be reached, a vision is the view of an ideal space you want inhabit in the future. The first states what you do and the second imagines what you want.

Quality and quantity

See, while tactics are quantifiable increments of action – say, build the factory, launch the product, market the product – a strategy has a more “qualifiable” goal – say, sell products that make the world a better place.

Whether you have achieved a mission (or enacted tactics) is a yes/no proposition. It’s provable and there is external evidence.

However, being able to say whether you have realised a vision (or are successfully pursuing a strategy) is an internal judgment call. It might not be directly provable, there may be no evidence, but it will ‘feel’ right.


  • I need a few million bucks (mission) so I can spend my days sailing (vision).
  • We’re going to go all-out to get this contract (tactic) to stabilise of our operations (strategy).

Perhaps you think I’m missing something in boiling it down so far? Let me know.

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