How to turn mission into vision


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I have been talking a great deal about service-centricity as the foundation for customer-centricity. Let’s further that discussion to examine what it takes to execute a service-centric business strategy. I will be using the UCLA Hospital System because of my intimate knowledge of their operations, thanks to the opportunities afforded to me to work with Amir Rubin the Chief Operating Officer and others in the course of working on a book about UCLA.

UCLA is undeniably one of the premier hospital systems in the world. On measures of quality clinical outcomes they are in a class of healthcare systems with the Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, and Johns Hopkins. If you had a complex medical condition or transplant need you would be very fortunate to be at UCLA. However, if you wanted “world class” customer experiences – UCLA might not have been for you. That’s where Amir Rubin and numerous other leaders at UCLA came in. Leadership saw an important opportunity to raise patient-service consistency to the level of their legendary medical outcomes.

The need for the elevation was highlighted by overall patient satisfaction scores in the 40th percentile – a far cry from enviable levels. So how does an academic medical center with an annual budget well over 1.3 billion dollars, 1000 inpatient beds, more than 80 specialty clinics,and 8000 employees elevate its service culture?

It started with a crystal clear understanding of UCLA Health System’s purpose. That required making adjustments to the corporate vision to raise service to a more prominent place. In it’s basic form the vision was “be the best” and represented a reasonable flow down from the corporate mission of “delivering leading edge patient care, research, and education.” But to be effective, a vision statement must take the corporate vision and make it both personal and relevant to each employee. As such, the UCLA vision now reads, “healing humankind, one patient at a time, by improving health, alleviating suffering, and delivering acts of kindness.”

From the standpoint of the revised vision, Amir Rubin shares “if you think about this type of strategy deployment leading edge patient care, research and education doesn’t speak to people’s passions and objectives and why we are all here. Yes, that’s our mission we are doing those things but what do we aspire to be? What do we aspire to do? How does that speak to the researcher, physician, the nurse, the housekeeper, the accountant, and the person in finance? I think improving health, alleviating suffering, and delivering acts of kindness speak to different people in different ways. Certainly, we want to improve everyones health but sometimes it is only alleviating suffering. Sometimes, particularly if you are not directly at the bedside, or even if we think about what business we are in – we are into caring. We are in the kindness business.”

So have translated your mission statement into a vision statement? My friend Terry Paulson says “the difference between a vision and an hallucination is how many people see it.” Is your vision statement compelling? Does it help your people have a line-of-sight opportunity to appreciate what’s necessary to create service excellence?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Michelli, Ph.D.
Joseph Michelli, Ph.D., an organizational consultant and the chief experience officer of The Michelli Experience, authored The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and the best-selling The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary Into Extraordinary.


  1. When I first read through your post I thought “no” your vision is what I would call a mission and the mission elements you mention are the strategies. That’s because I typically thought of a Vision as “the light on the hill” and a short easily memorable and inspiring phrase.

    But after a while I figured you are right. Yours is longer, but it does that Vision “thing” very well.

    I’m quite keen on “visions” and “missions” but they aren’t in favor at the moment. The circle will turn again. They aren’t in favor because too many were created in a vacuum without being seen or understood as a tool and shorthand to facilitate decision making and strategic choice, even customer qualification and choice. It’s a bit like what happen to strategic planning when it lost touch with the businesses. But that does not mean that they do not have value even if it is popular now to disparage them.

    Well done.

    Walter Adamson @g2m
    Certified Social Media Consultant
    My networks:
    Melbourne, Australia

  2. Sorry for not acknowledging your response further. I am glad we are holding on to visions and missions. They are the differentiator when push comes to shove. All my best Joseph


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