The newest tool in our Innovation Toolkit is the Mission & Vision Statement Canvas. This is a great tool to use when forming a new organization, or any time you need to clarify a group’s activities and purpose.

To get started, gather your team and spend a few minutes discussing the objective of the session and the difference between a Mission Statement and a Vision Statement. These terms are often used without being defined, so a brief explanation up front can help get everyone on the same page and reduce confusion. We suggest that a good VISION statement describes future conditions in aspirational terms. In contrast, a good MISSION statement describes present activities in concrete terms.

One of our favorite examples comes from the nonprofit group Feeding America. Their vision is “A Hunger Free America.” This aspirational vision describes a highly desirable future in plain language that is clear, memorable, and inspiring.

How does Feeding America pursue their vision? By executing their mission: “To feed America’s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks and engage our country in the fight to end hunger.” This specific, concrete mission describes what this organization does – builds networks of food banks and engages people through advocacy and awareness efforts. And just like their vision statement, Feeding America’s mission is described in simple, plain language.

While mission and vision statements are often viewed as external marketing materials, they actually have a role to play internally as well. Each member of the team’s daily activities should line up with the mission. If anyone is doing things that do not match the mission, they are unlikely to contribute towards achieving the vision.

Because Mission and Vision statements get to the heart of what a team does and why they do it, it is a good idea to include team members in the process of developing them. This canvas provides an easy way to make sure everyone in your group has a voice in developing these statements.