The word 'mission' comes from the Latin word "missionem" meaning 'act of sending.'
The word 'goal' comes from the Old English word 'gal' meaning 'the end point of a race.'
The word mission would refer to the statement of the overall purpose of an organization. It sets out to describe in broad and general terms the entire operations of the organization. It describes what you do, for whom you do it and the benefit, e.g. "To provide consumers with high-quality, price-competitive widgets to meet their personal, business and recreational needs."
The word goal would be a bit more specific and attempt to define accomplishment of the mission, e.g. "Grow profitability. Maximize net income by increasing revenues and controlling costs."
The term mission has a specific meaning as applied to corporate or strategic management. A mission is the purpose of an organization - the reason why the organization exists. Experts on strategic management advice companies to thing seriously about and what their mission and document in a mission statement. Such a mission statement could include:
- A Vision: This is the a picture of the kind of future the company envisages for itself for a significant period of time.
- Strategic Intent: A statement of the desired future state or aspirations of the company that motivates all the employees of the company.
- Main Activities of the organization and the kind of position it wants to attain. The position to be attained may be described in terms as the 'leader' or the 'best'.
- Key values of the organization: This will describe in particular its attitude toward different stakeholder groups.
In strategic management the term goal is used to refer to a general aim. This goal needs to be in line with the company's mission statement. It could be stated in general terms or can be more specific and stated in quantitative terms.
Given below are Mission statement and of British Airway (Johnson and Scholes, 2004, p. 14).
To be undisputed leaders in the world travel. We are passionately committed to excellence and to the highest level of customer satisfaction.
- The customers' choice - the airlines of first choice in our key markets.
- Strong profitability - meeting investor expectations and securing the future.
- Truly global - global network, global outlook: recognized everywhere for superior value in the world.
- Inspired people - inspired team of people, building and benefiting from the company's success.
Johnson, G and Scholes, K. 2004, Exploring Corporate Strategy, Sixth Edition, Prentice-Hall, New Delhi.