MISSION vs VISION & In One Short Sentence, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella Explained the Flaw w/ Bill Gates’ Original Mission

by Bob Whitesel D.Min. Ph.D, 2/27/17.

Why are Apple fans more passionate than PC followers? Why are artists, who think abstractly, drawn to Apple more than Microsoft?

It has to do with one of their founder’s mixup of vision with mission.

Bill Gates equated mission with vision. As I teach my students, the two are distinctly different: mission never changes, but vision is temporal and may change, albeit carefully, over time and with strategic analysis.

Gates equated mission with vision as the current Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said, “It always bothered me that we confused an enduring mission with a temporal goal.”

Nadelle explained, “When I joined the company in 1992, we used to talk about our mission as putting a PC in every home, and by the end of the decade we have done that, at least in the developed world,” said Nadella.

Nadella is right, “putting a PC in every home” is not a mission – because it is a vision. It is something that can be reached, can be pictured in your mind and is temporally bound. You can see a vision in your mind. You can envision every house having a PC computer. That is why every house today doesn’t, many have Macs.

A mission drives the company and its values, therefore shaping it’s decisions. It is much bigger and grander than a vision.

When Steve Jobs was luring Bill Scully from PepsiCo to become CEO of Apple, Jobs shared a mission, not a vision, saying: “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?” (Odyssey: Pepsi to Apple: A Journey of Adventure, Ideas, and the Future [1987] by John Sculley and John A. Byrne)

A mission is just like that. It is exciting, world-changing … but somewhat imprecise so it could be manifest in many different outcomes. It is also not temporally bound, like “putting a PC in every home.” A mission drives your values and decisions through many different projects.

But, people like visions because they can envision what the future looks like. For instance, they can picture every home having a PC.

In contrast, look at the loyal following and passionate followers of Apple. Steve Jobs had a mission to “change the world” by reinventing the way the world interacts. This change mission includes, but is not limited to, putting an Apple Computer in every home. But it also includes visions such as putting an Apple iPhone in every hand, perfecting the computer notepad, reinventing how we obtain/listen to music, etc.

A person who knows the difference between vision and mission understands why it was much more fun and exciting to work for Jobs than for Gates. And a person who knows the difference between vision and mission understands why people are more passionate about companies like Apple.

If you are trying to get people excited about the mission of the church and your vision, then you must begin by understanding the difference between vision and mission. Even mega-wealthy entrepreneurs like Gates didn’t get it and their legacy reminds us of this.

Read this article to discover why Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said, “It always bothered me that we confused an enduring mission with a temporal goal.”

In One Short Sentence, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella Explained the Flaw w/ Bill Gates’ Original Mission

by Justin Bariso, Inc. Magazine, 2/27/17.

I’ve been a fan of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella for some time. From encouraging employees after an epic fail to the amazing autonomy he’s granted LinkedIn (after that company’s recent acquisition), Nadella has proven he’s the right leader to guide Microsoft into the future.

Of course, Nadella took over a position that was once held by the company’s founder and world’s wealthiest man Bill Gates. But in a recent interview with USA Today, Nadella showed that he’s not afraid to forge his own path–by sharing what he saw as a flaw in Gates’s original mission statement.

“When I joined the company in 1992, we used to talk about our mission as putting a PC in every home, and by the end of the decade we have done that, at least in the developed world,” said Nadella.

He continues: “It always bothered me that we confused an enduring mission with a temporal goal.”

Moving Forward

For his part, Nadella has tried to embrace a more forward-thinking philosophy.  Just a few examples:

  • Microsoft Azure (the company’s cloud computing service) is growing rapidly, and second in market share only to Amazon’s AWS…

Read more at … http://www.inc.com/justin-bariso/in-one-short-sentence-microsoft-ceo-satya-nadella-explained-the-flaw-with-bill-g.html

#LEAD600 #LEAD545


VISION & Good/Bad Vision Statements Compared

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 3/15/16.

Clients, students and seminar attendees often ask about what a good vision statement looks like. First let’s define what a vision statement is and then look at good (and bad) examples.

Here is a concise comparison between mission and vision statements.

“Envisioning begins by asking ourselves ‘what do we do?’ (our mission statement) and continues by uncovering, ‘where to we believe God is calling our church to go in the future’ (our vision statement).” 1

Here is a fuller explanation. 2

FIGURE ©Whitesel HOUSE DIVIDED 5.1 Mission & Vision Statement Compared p 107 copy

FIGURE ©Whitesel HOUSE DIVIDED 5.1 Mission & Vision Statement Compared p 107.b

Here are some good and some better examples: 3

The following are sample vision statements that have been generationally shaped to promote a Tri-Gen. format (italics are added here for emphasis):

  • “We want to turn pre-Christian people of all generations into fully devoted followers of Christ, through relevant teaching and up-to-date worship.
  • “To build a caring and compassionate congregation that loves people of all ages into a relationship with Jesus Christ through acts of kindness.”
  • Our vision is to reach all generations within the tri-state area with the Good News through culture-current forms of evangelism, worship, teaching and nurture, and to work with other congregations to accomplish these goals.
  • To provide for (city) a Christian fellowship offering teaching and worship opportunities geared to each generation, while respecting our differences and exalting our Lord.
  • The vision of (church name) is to present Christ to the people of (city) in a caring and creative way, that will make disciples of all ages; while offering them a forgiving and open-hearted environment.
  • To simultaneously meet the needs of all generations of people in our community, through biblical teachings and personal lifestyle that will create social action, conscience and responsibility.
  • Our ministry goal is to build relationships to all generations through Christ-centered teaching, quality worship, heartfelt care, personal discipleship and credible leadership.
  • Our church vision is to become a lighthouse to the greater metropolitan area, by addressing the needs of all generations though parallel worship, teaching, and care ministries; which will exalt and honor our Lord Jesus Christ.

And here is a (humorous) example of a bad vision statement:

“First Covenant Church exists for the passion and purpose of inspiring, discipling, equipping and sending out Christ followers with the destiny of transforming the world to the glory of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and fostering a graceful yet convicting church environment in which people of all faith experiences and backgrounds are molded into the image and reflection of Christ, together creating a God-honoring community of authentic worshipers deliberately focused on reaching their community, the nation, the next generation of believers and the world through missions works, innovative programs and prayer.”  And that’s just the first sentence… Read More

You can download below a chapter on the difference between mission, vision and value statements from my book A House Divided: Bridging the Generation Gaps in Your Church.  If this helps you consider supporting the publisher and the author by purchasing the book: House_Divided_Chpt5_Vision©BobWhitesel


  1. Bob Whitesel, A House Divided: Bridging the Generation Gaps in Your Church (Abingdon Press, 2000), p. 240.
  2. ibid., p. 107.
  3. ibid., p. 108.

OPERATIONAL LEADERSHIP & A Quiz to Help Discover if You Are a Shepherd (a leadership exercise)

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 12/15/15.

Are you a shepherd or a visionary (or a little of both)? 

Here is a posting explaining the difference: STO LEADERSHIP & An Overview: Are you a shepherd or a visionary (or a little of both)?

But what if you are primarily an operational-style of leader, the type we classify as “shepherd?”  Will you ever lead a large, growing ministry?

Yes you may, for I have seen many “shepherd leaders” who build leadership teams that lead large flocks. Read the excerpt from my book here to find out the difference (not for public distribution, so if you enjoy the chapter please support the publisher and author by purchasing a copy): BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT – CHANGE REACTION Chpt. 2 STO Leaders.

A Questionnaire to Discover If You are Primarily a Shepherd Leader

If you feel you are an “operational leader” more than a “strategic leader,” that is fine.

As I said above, I’ve seen many leaders of large ministries that are primarily operational leaders. This is because they build together a great team to lead the organization.

So how do you know if you are an operational (shepherd) leader?  How do you tell?

A good place to start is Randall Neighbour’s self-exam called the “Pastor’s Relational Survey.”  It came from the Appendix of his book, The Naked Truth About Small Group Ministry.

You can complete Neighbour’s the “Pastor’s Relational Survey” self-exam in about 10 minutes here: “Pastor’s Relational Survey.”Take this short questionnaire and it may help you focus on your unique leadership gifts.

VISION & Should Out-group Members Help Shape Vision?

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 11/5/15.

A pastor of a mid-sized church (300-450 attendance) wondered to what degree the vision should be generated by the pastor and staff (the in-group) and to what degree should the vision be co-generated with laity who may include out-groups. This is what he said:

“What do you think about the viewpoints that ‘it is not the Elders’ role to come up with the vision,’ but (their) work is to follow the lead pastor’s vision and ensure that he/she has time, resources, and tools to cultivate a clear vision of the body.” The student went on to emphasize that in many large churches it is the pastor and staff who are an in-group that drives the vision. And the laypersons and out-groups are those who bring it about. Thus vision should be in-group created but out-group undertaken.

But, I wonder with such a scenario about two things. First, perhaps God has sent those out-group members to your church and He wants you to reach out to them and build a shared vision.

Secondly, the in-group/out-group division could have been caused by cultural differences (see my posting on “Does Race Matter When It Comes to Out-group Members?”) Therefore, should we break down the organizational silos and unite a congregation by creating a shared vision, rather than a vision created by the dominant culture in the church.

And finally, what will happen when a new leader (e.g. pastor) comes into such a situation?  Does each new pastor bring their own new vision to the church?  Regrettably, I have observed that this is often the case. The end result it that with each successive pastor the church often gets a new vision and then goes in a new direction, thwarting long term strength and health.

In fact, in the business word the new leader rarely comes up with a brand new vision, but instead allows input from the in-groups and out-groups to set a shared vision.  But there is a caveat. And that is that some churches may have a wrong vision (and/or mission) and therefore they must be gently but tenaciously drawn back to the missio Dei.  However, I’m not talking about these churches.

Rather, I sense that if most churches foster a vision that is cultivated in community that vision will be is more balanced, broad, shared and long-term.

STRATEGIC PLANNING & A Simple QSPM Grid To Assess Which Visionary’s Idea is Best

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 9/17/15.

A former student told how a congregant abused the power of “vision” to push through an idea that was not in the best interest of the church.  The student wished there could be a way to prevent persuasive forecasters from selling the church on ideas, that though they may look good in a vision, in reality are not good for the church.

Here is his observation with some comments on how to evaluate such persuasive vision-casters:

Dear Dr. Whitesel, For years ____church name___  has debated two issues. Do we build an elevator or remodel the kitchen?  The elevator ended up being built.  I remember how it all went down.  A board member gave a vision statement of why we needed an elevator and painted a picture of the future of our church and how an elevator would benefit us.  The board unanimously voted in favor and the elevator was built.”  Sincerely, ___Name of Student___

My comments:

I reminded the student about how we learned about a “Quantitative Strategic Planning Matrix” (QSPM).  Basically this is an exercise (via a grid) through which we can measure numerically which of several tactics (e.g. an elevator for a church, a kitchen remodel or teaching English as a second language) will best help a church attain a vision that is based upon a SWOT.

Basically, with a vision statement and accompanying SWOT analysis, the student could then create a Quantitative Strategic Planning Matrix (QSPM) and numerically compared the two strategies (elevator or remodel a kitchen).

See Figure 5.8 (Smith, et. al. 2011, p. 100, click to enlarge) to see a QSPM for a church that was comparing its options of either relocating or starting a new service.

FIGURE ©Whitesel Ch MBA Figure 5.8
From this figure, I think you can see that in the ecclesial world we often lack knowledge about management tools, such as a QSPM, that would allow our leaders to make better choices regarding programming.  Usually churches make decisions about programming based upon the four Ps: Proximity (a church nearby tried this program and it worked), Popularity (a new program is so popular that your church wants to try it), Propensity (a leader in the church has a propensity, or partiality for a program), or Persuasiveness (of the presenter – and what happened in this case).

All of these ways to choose a strategy would be criticized in the business world as nothing more than hunches.  This is why many of our lay leaders, who are successful business people, are bothered by our cavalier attitude to tactic selection.  If they’ve taken business courses in undergrad or graduate school, they are already familiar with a QSPM.  And thus they often wonder how we can lead such an important organization as the church without an understanding a basic principles of planning such as a QSPM.Church Leader's MBA cover

Sometimes students struggle with using a Quantitative Strategic Planning Matrix (QSPM) and think, “this looks too complicated, I don’t think I will use it.”  But, it is a great exercise for a leadership retreat.  A QSPM can give an actual rating (a number) whereby you can compare two worthy ideas and see which one better matches up with your vision.

Now, you don’t need to use a QSPM every time you have a new idea.  But, when there two competing ideas (like in the story by the student above) then it is best to use a QSPM and get an actual numerical comparison.  It can take the emotional vision-persuasion elements out of important decisions and make these decisions more balanced.

VISION & Mission, Core-values, Core-competencies … what is the difference?

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 9/15/15.

A student once shared he was trying to distinguish between these four types of statements: core-values, core-competencies, mission and vision.  I tried to simplify them (perhaps overly so), but I wanted to share that synopsis in case you were in a similar scenario.

Here is my response.


Hello ___student_name____,

I don’t blame anyone for getting bogged down today in word-smithing, for there are many writers writing on the same thing, and they often mix their terms.   But, I like most of you believe that a vision statement is important for answering the “why” of an organization.

Thus, here is how I would succinctly explain the difference between a mission statement, a vision statement, core values and core competencies.

Mission: Tells us the what.

Core-values: Tell us the why.

Core-competencies: Tell us the best how (based in part upon how the world thinks we can do it).

Vision: Pictures the future goal of the how.


in addition, here is a chapter from my book A House Divided: Bridging the Generation Gaps in Your Church on the difference between mission, vision and value statements.  As customary, if this helps you consider supporting the publisher and the author by purchasing the book: House_Divided_Chpt5_Vision©BobWhitesel

VALUES & How to find (and state) a church’s Biblical core values

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 9/11/15.

A student once stated,” …our church is one of the many churches that David Wilson alludes to in his book Foundations of Church Administration ….. For example, the previous mission statement had to deal with reaching out to the world around the church. It was a great mission, but it was never accomplished. It was never close to being accomplished. The church did not focus outward, instead it catered to whatever ministries the most influential people sought to build. That is why I believe we must answer the question of what core beliefs we have of what the church should be. If we answer those questions well, that in and of itself will impact who we are as believers. It will not be about just what we do; it will be about who we are. It will not be just about our behaviors; it will be about changing our DNA as a church.”

That is the value of “value statements,” for without them a mission and a vision for a church’s participation in the missio Dei is impossible.

Therefore, if you come to lead a church that has become organizationally- and/or communally-focused, then the first step toward creating a mission and a vision, is to clarify (and embrace) new core-values.

FIGURE House Divided 5.2 Biblical Values via WimberThat is why in “A House Divided” (2000:112) I created a Scriptural grid for defining the Biblical basis (or core-values) for a church.  If a church is struggling with what it values at it’s core, then starting with the Scriptures is essential.  And, I created this chart (Figure 5.2, based upon ideas from John Wimber, Writing Your History in Advance, nd) to make the process a bit easier.  It is attached to help stir your thinking (as well as your creativity and impact).  Click to enlarge the chart.

Download the chapter here (but as always, if you enjoy the insights please support the publisher and author by buying a copy of the book):  House_Divided_Chpt5_Vision©BobWhitesel