More so than ever in an age of rapidly evolving technologies and global expansion, sustainable competitive advantage depends foremost on a clear sense of organizational purpose (mission) and a compelling vision for success (Campbell & Alexander, 1997). Together, these two key elements define the guiding framework for the insightful creation of value (Campbell & Alexander, 1997) that differentiates an organization from its competitors (Porter, 1996). Thus, knowledge of the critical elements that comprise meaningful mission and vision statements (Aguinis, 2009) becomes essential for achieving sustainable competitive advantage. As testimony, this paper assesses the strategic guidance provided by the mission and vision statements of the Starbucks Coffee Company. More specifically, the discussion defines the characteristics found in good mission and vision statements, describes the salient characteristics of the Starbucks mission and vision, and concludes with a summary assessment of their relative effectiveness as a guiding framework for strategic decision making in developing and implementing a competitive strategy that links organizational priorities with performance.
Characteristics of an Ideal Mission Statement
In its broadest
Most important for purposes of strategic decision making, a good mission statement provides "long-term directional stability without pushing the organization into an unrealistic box" (Campbell Alexander, 1997, p. 60), the Starbucks mission statement addresses all with the exception of the technology to be used for production and delivery of products and services. In addition, an effective vision statement challenges people to be innovative and to take risks in confronting the uncertainties of change (Daft, 2008). Otherwise, the comprehensive focus of the firm"tms mission statement sets an excellent example for other organizations to follow. As Schultz (2011) observes, "Our mission provided guardrails for the company as we ventured down new roads, and every once in a while we looked in the rear-view mirror to make sure we were being consistent" (p. Description of the Starbucks Vision Entitled "Our Aspirations," the Starbucks compelling vision statement expresses the extraordinary passion underlying the company"tms mission: "To become an enduring, great company with one of the most recognized and respected brands in the world, known for inspiring and nurturing the human spirit" (Schultz, 2011, p. That Starbucks competitive strategy has elevated the company to become the recognized world authority on coffee provides eloquent testimony of the efficacy of its mission and vision. However, the vision statement"tms expression of becoming an enduring, great company effectively negates the value of setting a prescribed timeframe for achievement. Historically, technology received meager attention from Starbucks leadership, and thus, the omission of specific reference to technology in the mission statement is not surprising. As Schultz (2011) explains, "We just had to focus on the right, relevant things for our partners, for our customers, for our stakeholders, and for our brand" (p. The overarching mission statement - "To inspire and nurture the human spirit one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time" - explicitly conveys the firm"tms intent to extend its global presence while maintaining the power of its brand identity as a local store. Thus, the most powerful visions derive from a fit of the guiding philosophies of an organization with the core values and beliefs of its members (Collins Porras, 1991).