Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Mission and Vision

I'm a product of 17 (yes, seventeen!) years of Jesuit education and the term "mission and vision" has been ingrained into me. What's the school's mission and vision? What's the club's mission and vision? Even in college, the organizations had to have a mission and vision. And since these were Jesuits who demanded that we have a mission and vision, the "mission and vision" had to be socially relevant and not insular.

Of course to those out there in "the real world", the concept is laughable. Mission and vision, what's that? Last year, there were some students who came to our offices, asking if our boss could be interviewed and asking what the magazine's mission and vision was. One of our former editorial assistant's laughed and said the publication had no mission and vision. We existed to make our boss rich.

On the surface, that's true. Business and companies and organizations exist for their own sake, usually for the sake of profit. Why are we in jobs? Again, on the surface-level, the answer is probably for selfish reasons: for our own sakes, so that we can earn money, so that we can get by in the world. Yet this answer did not satisfy me--not because I disliked the answer that I was seeing, but because I saw something more.

I think every corporation, every business entity, even every human being has a mission and vision. It might not always be socially relevant in the sense that it affects the community, and it doesn't always operate on a conscious level, but it's there. I mean my boss, while seemingly always on the lookout to save money or to earn money, nonetheless has standards. There are some things which he won't comprise on, such as the magazine's photos and art. If the magazine I was working for had a mission and vision (and on a subconscious level, it does), it would be aesthetics. And this just doesn't apply to my company. Bookstores, for example, operate on the belief that people will read. The cause it supports, even indirectly, is literacy.

Of course what brought about this realization is something closer to home. A few months ago, I'd game at a friend's house in San Juan. He'd offer to bring us dinner because it was near his grandfather's restaurant. His grandfather, upon starting the restaurant, swore that no one in his family would starve. Thus my friend always had free food (if he so obliged) whenever he was in the area. And this wasn't a unique case. Another friend of mine (part of the gaming circle I'm with) also had a grandfather who used to be a farmer and promised that the family would always have rice (unfortunely, it only applies to rice and not the wide menu of an entire restaurant unlike my other friend).

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