Tag Archives: coherence

Vision, Mission, and Aim

Having a vision, mission, and aim are very important in bringing coherence to your organization. You can call them by different names but combining them or collapsing them is not the best idea. It can lead to confusion and allow you to miss or avoid one or another of them. And the different names may confuse you as well.


The vision is your dream. What you want the world to be. On a grand scale, it’s why your organization exists. This dream could have led you in many different directions, but the dream would be the same. It is generally unchanging. This dream, your vision of the better world, is what will keep you and your organization moving forward when there is too much work to do and adversity of one kind or another has struck.

Many people want to skip the vision. It might be too heart wrenching and emotionally revealing. It might be too small, too embarrassingly simple. Many of the most successful business leaders, entrepreneurs, and large corporations have dreams, outlined in clearly stated vision statements, that rival the best of the non-profit organizations.


Your mission is how you will contribute to making the dream come true. It describes your sphere of  influence, the relationship between you and your vision. While the vision is a dream, the mission is action focused. It stakes out a territory. It says this is my subject, my industry, my work. This is what I’m going to do.

Your mission may change as the world changes and as you accomplish more. A mission statement should be reviewed every few years to determine if it is still relevant to your dream and if it is producing the changes you wanted to produce.


An aim is often called a goal or an objective. It is what you produce or accomplish. It is tangible and something that can be measured. If you can’t measure it, you can’t accomplish it.

Aims change frequently as you reach milestones and complete the work you set out to do. Aims should be realistic and based on reasonable expectations. An aim must be something you can point to with pride when you accomplish it. You must be able to see it. Your Vision is the dream that keeps you going when things are bleak and accomplishing your aim provides the daily satisfaction.

Where to Start

Sometimes it is easiest to start with your aim. It is tangible and you probably have some experience with it. Then define your mission, your relationship to the larger world, and then your vision.

On the other hand, idealists often have a dream and search around for a mission, their place to be in the world. Then they find a product or service that is needed in that niche.

But in the end, if you avoid your dream, work may be drudgery. If you avoid your mission, your relationship to the world will be fuzzy and confused. If you avoid defining a clear aim, you risk not just missing the target but having no target.

Equating Consensus and Non-Violent Communication (NVC) with Governance

Often heard: “We don’t use sociocracy or dynamic governance; we use consensus.” Or, “We don’t use dynamic governance; we use non-violent communication (NVC).

The simple problem with these oppositions is that neither consensus nor NVC are governance methods. They don’t come with a set of principles or practices for structuring an organization, managing operations, and ensuring that the appropriate people are making the necessary decisions.

Consensus is a method for making decisions, just like majority vote is used to make decisions.

NVC is a technique for clarifying one’s feelings and needs, and can be very helpful when making decisions.

To say that you govern or organize yourselves using either of these is to say you have no governance structure. In the case of consensus, you have a decision-making method, which is usually used by the whole group participating. In the case of NVC, you have is a method for each member to clarify their needs and attempt to have them met.

So What Is Governance?

A governance method determines:  Who are the decision-makers and what decisions can they can make. How decisions are made. How resources—money and people—will be allocated. How policies be established and changed. How the work of the organization will be done. Who will determine what that work is. Most of our organizations, of course, don’t do this very clearly. Or they do it from time to time but then things change and the policies and practices aren’t updated.

Organizations, like systems, need a coherent structure of relationships between parts and a clear flow of information and resources. A governance method is necessary to establish and maintain that structure. Neither consensus nor NVC provide this.