There are no universally agreed upon definitions for the terms vision, mission, strategies, and objectives. How you define them is based largely on your past experience with planning or perhaps a business class. A lack of common understanding for these terms can lead to confusion and inconsistency when departments in an organization attempt to create their plans for the year.
You can simplify the confusion of terms by instead considering each term as question. The five questions that need to be answered in any business plan are:
1. What are we building? (Vision)
2. Why does this business exist? (Mission)
3. How will we build this company over time? (Strategies)
4. What results will we measure? (Objectives)
5. What are the game-changing projects to be done over the next 12 months?(Action Plans)
The planning process starts at the top with the CEO/President answering these five questions and then each direct report in turn answers the questions for their area of responsibility. The questions are modified to replace the word ‘business’ with ‘department’ or ‘program.’
Starting with simpler methodology provides a straightforward framework that everyone can agree upon.