Organisational mission and objectives

Another essential element of org:rnis~uional strategy is the development, reYiew
and/or redefinition of the organisation’s mission, vision and strategic objectives. A
mission statement is a broad expression of an organisation’s distinctive purpose or
rc1isrm d’etre ;llld how it achines this purpose. They are designed to be quire st,1hle
but this does not mean that they cannot be altered to reflect significant, relevant
changes in the organisation’s environment.
The missioll sutcment is nfrcn ~1n:ompaI1ied hy ~1 vision statement, or suternent
of strategic intent, that describes more hroadh what/where the organisation wants
to be when the purpose is being accomplished; that is, ‘Where do we want to go?’
‘X’hat do we wa11t to he:’. The I isio11 sutemenr is u:-,ually short, specifiL· ro the
organisation, and designed to motivate staff towards the achievement of a desired
but realistic future state (Hitt et al 2005, p 3~6, Hubbard 2004, p 69). Vision and
missiun statements arL’ often cmnhi11cd. X’herc the;· arc not combined, the mission
statement usually focuses on what the organisation is doing to achieve the vision;
that is, it operationalises the vision (Hubbard 2004, p 69).
fany organisations also include a statemenr of the core values that underpin
deL·ision-making v1thi11 the organis,1tion, such as teamwork, c1,11ti11uous imprmcment
and individualised patient cc1re. Finally, strategic object1es arc the tangible
outcomes or targets to be achieved. This section provides a brief overview of key
concepts that conrribute to an understanding of organisational mission (incorporating
vision) and strategic objectives.
Purpose of mission statements
Mission statements have become progressively more important in the administration
of modern health care organisations. The principal reason for this is the complex and
drnamic environment in which health care organisations find themselves operating.
Changing mandates, reduced budgets and increased accountability are likelv to
prm1de continuing d1allcnges in hoth the for-profit and not-for-profit health care
sectors. Responding effectively to these challenges requires, among other things, the
re-examination of organisational strategy. The development of a meaningful mission
statement is a strategic exercise that is considered by academics and administrators
alike as critical to the success of health care organisations (Bart 2000).
An effective mission statement L’illl be said to fulfil three main 1iurposes:
• to guide and tocus decision-making in an organisation (lrcLrnd ~ I litt 1992 ):
• to provide staff with a sense of direction and common purpose (Wilson 1992,
Campbell 1993); and
• to create a balance between the competing interests of various stakeholders, for
nample the community, customers, staff (Klemm et al 1991 ).
Despite some ongoing debate about thL’ pragmatic or ‘real’ value of mission sL1tements
and their in~uence on organis,1tional processes, there is now a substantial body
of supportive literature and a number of studies have demonstrated a relationship
between mission statements and organisational performance (Ginter et al 2002). For
ex,1mple, Bart ( 199-1 found that the inclusion of particular content items in missi()n
statements had a greater influence on employee hL’haviour than hen they were riot
included; for example, ‘purpose’, ‘general corpora re goals’, ‘sel f-concepr’, ‘des1 red
public image’, ‘values’, ‘concern for customers’ and ‘concern for employees’.
If they are to be of strategic value, mission statements must be well formulated
and effective in the way that thev link the organisation’s activities and values with
its dL·sired future.
Key features of a mission statement
‘(‘bile there are many ways of writing a mission statement, several key features have
been identified as generally applicable to the mission statement of any organisation
(Ginter et al 20021. However, mission stJtements do not need to include all of these.
An mcrall summan of the features is presented in Tahlc 12.3.
Table 12.3 Key features of a mission statement
The particular kinds of patients or clients for whom services will be provided; for example, children of all ages
ThP speciill snvices thdt v’.’ill be provided; for exdmple, comprehensive diagnostic dnd treJtme11t services for
adult patients, high quality supportive care for frail elderly clients.
The partirn/,1r geo 0rc1phic,11 Jrea where t!w orgJni,dtion will operJte; !or example, d clPlined scope of c1ctivity,
such as rural facil1ties/serv,ces.
Ke philosophical belief, d1d/or vc1lues of the orsan1satio11; for tample, a commitment to holistic ca1111g,
enhancing quality of life for clients
Ke c;oal, tl1Jt the orgdlll’>dtion 1s working towdr,11, for example to promote optimal he,ilth did wellbe1ng, to
enhance quality of ,1fe for clients and their families.
! The distinct WdY thdt dll organrsatlO’l ‘oees 1bell; for exd111ple, d private, not-lor prolit integrdted health oervict,
a caring communlty’family partnership of high-quality health care providers.
The way that the organisa,1011 wishes to be perceived by the co111mun1t 111 wh,cil it operates; lur exam~le,
high-quality, cost-effective services. delivery of services in a manner that values and respects the personal
d1g111ty and u11iquc11e<,<, of all who are oerved.
Sourc·c·: Duwcd tr()lll ( ,Inter P1, s ,l)’lll’ I I, Du nun w.1 21lil2 Str.:tc.~ic 1/lililil.~<‘IJ/l’llt u( iJt’.dth
care urg,1111s,1tiu11s 14th ed). BLickwcll Business, Jlalden, YIA, pp 183-4
lr might be useful at this point to consider some examples of mission statements
(Box 12.1 l. Note that although the elements summarised in Table 12.3 are exhibited
to a greater or lesser degree in the examples provided in Box 12.1, each miss1011
statement attempts to capture the uniqueness of the respective organisation in terms
ot its reason for being. In this way these statements provide useful gwdelincs to suff
and customers as to what the organisation should he doing.
Mission statements and strategic objectives
By definition, a miss10n statement is cl broad description ot the essence and purpose
of an organisation. !n and of itself it does not, and should not, provide the specifics
that arc necessary to direct the pc1rticular activities of the org.rnisarion. Thus, once the
mission statement has been formulated and agreed on, attention needs to be given to
iJemifying the things that will provide specific J1rection for achievement ot the HllSsion.
Strategic objectives are specific targets or ‘pointers’ that focus attention on what
needs to be Jone. Another way of expressing this is rlut they arc written statements
of the desired outcomes. According to Drucker (1992, p 162), clear objectives focus
the activities of staff to achieving the organisation’s mission. A useful model for the
development of strategic objectives is the SMART (specific, measurable, agreed and
actionable, realistic, timebound) model as outlined by Piggot (2000). A brief summary
of the SMART model is presented in Table 12.4.
Example of a mission statement from a residential care setting
Our purpose is to provide holistic nursing care within a supportive and safe residential setting. We
are committed to assisting our residents, their family and significant others through a collaborative
caring role.
Source: Fleming M 2001 Annual Report. Nunyara Nursing Home, Fleming Group, Brisbane.
Reproduced with permission
Example of a mission statement from a children’s health service
Helping children and young people across hospital and community settings to better health and
wellbeing through the demonstration of leadership in service provision, education and research.
Table 12.4 Development of strategic objectives
Objectives should clearly specify the ‘who, what and how’ of what is to be done.
Objectives should have sufficient meaning to enable recognition of when they have been achieved.
Objectives should be agreed by all responsible for or involved in their achievement.
Objectives should be challenging yet achievable in terms of available resources, e.g. skills, money, people, time,
and robust in terms of all the likely scenarios that may occur.
A specific time frame for achieving an objective is set.
Source: Adapted from Piggot CS 2000 Business planning for health care management (2nd ed).
Buckingham Press, Philadelphia
The strategic objectives provide a basis for developing the work plan of the organisation.
This comprises a list of the activities or strategies that are required to achieve
each of the objectives together with associated responsibilities, accountabilities
and time scales. It can also contain the costings associated with the activities to be
done. Taken together, these costs are the budget for the organisation that is needed
to achieve the strategic plan (Piggot 2000). Strategic objectives must align with the
mission and strategic priorities derived from the environmental and stakeholder
analyses, described above.