Strategy, Innovation & Leadership

MOVING Mission Framework

By Ron Meyer | March 1, 2024 | 4 min read

How can I formulate an inspiring mission? TIAS professor of Strategic Leadership Ron Meyer presents an insightful tool to kickstart your thinking: MOVING Mission Framework.

Key Definitions

A mission is the assignment that people embrace that propels them in a certain direction (from the Latin mittere – to send). It is a set of fundamental principles driving the organization forward – not a goal or a project to be accomplished, but a philosophy to live by. A mission doesn’t tell you where the voyage is headed, but why and how the voyage should be undertaken. A mission will be inspiring if it touches people’s hearts and minds, giving them a sense of mission – a deeply held conviction that what they are doing is meaningful, valuable, and right, and therefore should be pursued, justifying the time, effort and resources being invested. 

Conceptual Model

The MOVING Mission Framework outlines the four key elements that need to be defined to have a complete mission for an organization. At the heart is the organizational purpose (“why do we exist?”), surrounded by three fundamental types of guiding conditions (“how do we exist?”). Underneath are the six criteria that need to be met for a mission to be truly MOVING and to create a strong sense of mission among all organizational members.  

MOVING Mission Framework

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Key Elements

The four building blocks of an inspiring organizational mission are the following:
1. Organizational Purpose. While an organization’s vision should give an answer to the question “where are we going?”, the organization’s purpose should answer “why are we going?”. What function do we serve – who stands to gain from our existence and what would happen if the organization folded? What is the impact we seek to have?
2. Business Definition. Besides the reason for being, there are also conditions of being, the first of which is to determine which types of activities fall within the embraced assignment and which are out of scope. What do we see as tasks belonging to who we are? And when do we regard something to be “not our business”, hence not worth further consideration?
3. Organizational Values. The next set of conditions of being are the fundamental values that the organization wants to live by. Which attitudes and behaviors do we hold in high regard and consider to be more important than others? If we rank a variety of principles or characteristics, which do we literally value above all alternatives?  
4. Organizational Beliefs. The final set of conditions of being are the strongly held beliefs shared by all organizational members. While values are about what is important, beliefs are about what is true – what is our worldview? Which assumptions do we have about people and organizations, and how they can develop and be effective?  

These four elements need to be determined while meeting the following six criteria:  
1. Meaning. To inspire, a mission needs to instill a sense of relevance and significance – that what the organization is doing is worthwhile and that the effort that people put in is useful. 
2. Optimism. A mission also needs to convey a hopeful message for people to buy in to, giving them a promising perspective that their efforts will lead to a positive outcome.
3. Validation. A mission should also make clear to internal and external stakeholders that the organization’s existence is justified, giving it a moral license to operate. 
4. Identity. A mission should also paint a picture of the organization’s personality, so that people can identify with its unique characteristics and feel emotionally connected.
5. Norms. A mission also needs to set tangible behavioral rules for all organizational members, clarifying what type of conduct is expected and what is not acceptable.
6. Guidance. Finally, a mission should also steer decision-making in a particular direction, by offering guidelines as to what are the aspirations and priorities of the organization.  

Key Insights

• A mission is the ongoing assignment you live by. Ban the term mission accomplished from your vocabulary. A mission is never finished, as it is the ongoing assignment driving an organization forward every day. A mission is not a project, but a philosophy. It doesn’t explain where to go, but why and how to go.
• A mission needs to set the reason for being. At the heart of a mission is the organization’s raison d’être – it’s reason for being, it’s purpose. It needs to be clear why the organization exists, and which functions it will strive to perform.
• A mission needs to set the conditions of being. Around the core of “why to exist” are three factors setting “how to exist” – what is our business definition (which activities are in scope for us?), what are our organizational values (which attitudes and behaviors are important to us?) and what are our organizational beliefs (which worldview do we have?).
• A mission needs to be MOVING to be inspiring. To constantly drive joint organizational action, a mission needs to provide meaning (our work is relevant and significant), optimism (our impact will be positive), validation (our existence is justified), identity (we are unique), norms (we live by certain rules) and guidance (we want to achieve certain things).
• A mission needs to trigger a sense of mission. Mission statements make great posters but are only useful if they touch hearts and minds, building a commitment among all organizational members exert themselves to constantly realize the shared assignment.


During the six-day Masterclass Organizational Leadership you will work on solutions for a problem of your own definition, such as transforming with your organization and getting employees moving. You will also reflect on the performance of your Management Team and your organization. This will help you realize effective growth for your organization.

Read more about the Masterclass Organizational Leadership »

MOVING Mission Framework is part 57 of a series of management models by prof. dr. Ron Meyer. Ron is managing director of the Center for Strategy & Leadership and publishes regularly on Center for Strategy & Leadership.

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