Just a repost; hardly anything but the footnotes had to change from that post from over two years ago..:
I was triggered recently about some very common mix-up, and suddenly saw a spark of insight. Since the seeing concerned me, it was at a distance of course (not), so I’ll share it with you to see whether you recognise the somewhat local phenomenon and its ramifications and cures.
This all being about the top-level structure for any organisation, i.e., vision, mission, strategy.
So often mixed up qua priorities and order.
Where a great many do think one starts with the mission, thinking endlessly wrongly that one determines the mission first, then … oh vision how can we define that, then, to cover the actual second step, and strategy oh we will not be able to define that.
Because of the mix-up you can’t. Because vision comes first. First define what and how you think the world will look like in somesomewhat more distant future. ONLY THEN [skipping the boldface] one defines whether and where one’s (organisation’s) place is thought to be within that; mission. Only then does one define how to get from the paltry Today’s position, to where the bright future is, and which path to follow; strategy.
When you begin with the mission, you utterly falsely assume there’s a place for you in the first place which, when you think that way, there is ever more certainly not.
When you start with the vision (which can be grand, being without you in the picture will help to that end…), you would also need to think about what your raison d’être in that world view would be. You have no right to existence [note that we’re discussing organisational rights, not natural persons’ rights for which the opposite does hold; ed.] other than making the future better – than any of your competitors can. If there’s competitors that can, in principle given their today’s capabilities, in fact do better than you, you’ll have to find something else to do as the world, by Pareto’s comparative advantage reasoning [which is one of the few economists’ reasonings of any value at all when without the ‘ceteris paribus’ totalitarian destructive lies; ed.], is better off when you leave it to others – the world better off being your purpose or you have no place on this planet. Anything related to profitability has no, zero, rien du tout, nul, nada, place in a mission statement since it’s a derivative requirement (sic) only, towards some specific but not therefore important, stakeholders known as shareholders or investors that, if your mission is true and virtuous, should be utterly grateful for the opportunity to be allowed to invest in your strategy and would even have to pay rent, not receive it. For organisations, it is only a requirement in as far as reserves are built, for hard times and even there one could insert some evolutionary theory that sometimes extremely improving mutations are wiped out by some unfortunate accident (act of nature) before becoming a species-wide improvement — same, for organisations that are set to become most beneficial to the world already on the road towards fulfilling their mission but fail halfway due to adverse but insufficiently bendable market conditions. Bad luck. Move over. Machiavelli’s Fortuna again. Read his Original to see how sobering he meant that and that you can be (Aristotelian-)virtuous all the way through.
So, first vision, then mission. And only then, strategy of course. Being the course. You need to take; roughly. Bending and shaping as you go along; sailing to an up-wind buoy. Setting the boundary conditions – including the boundaries of means you’ll allow as not all means are allowed for just any ends, no end may be enough for some means, most ends are not worth pursuing in the first place. You get the drift; if the means are not ethical, virtuous, the ends will never be. Excepting only a handful of situations like war/genocide, large-scale natural disaster, et al. where one may have to shoot the bad guys to prevent them shooting the good guys.
But hey, this was just the spark. About the wrong-order its cause(s). The rest … good for PowerPoint presentations on the subject I’d say.
[Edited to add: Next try to understand the utter ridiculousness of the Dutch ‘beleid’ as translation of ‘policy’. Meaning (in both languages, creepingly) not what it has meant over the past decades, centuries, but more like ‘petty micromanagement ruleset’. No more general picket post placement in the distance but rails, shackles…]
Leaving you with:
[The lands you defends, into the fuzziness; (from) Salzburg Castle]
 Yes, in a conversation to establish whether I’d want to work somewhere, and they’d have me. Both ways, the result was Unsure But Let’s Keep On Talking. They had a Mission on their glass door, and a Vision, and Values – you understand that Mission and Vision were a jumble of Calimero-aspirational buzz, and Values were a big fat Mehhh. If you have to post them on your door in the hall to remind any employee coming to work day in, day out, you’re .. well, not quite living them, are you ..?
 Tell-tale, this  club had Values there, not Strategy. The latter, didn’t even surface in a second conversation at all. As if one bumped into a fluffy ceiling when trying to raise the level, before being pulled back to mundane hire-warm-body work descriptions. Some sparks of want to move forward and some slight claim of record there but hardly any self-volunteered methodology hints or so…