Can an Assistant be effective if they do not understand the Mission, Vision and Strategy of the organization that they are supporting? asks Richard Arnott

Before we explore this question in more detail we should however firstly look at what the terms Mission, Vision and Strategy mean as they do tend to get confused.


The Mission of any organization should be about “Who they are”and“What they value”.It is a short statement that answers the questionWhat do we do?” It is primarily about the present time (although leading to the future).

A good Mission Statement clearly articulates the raison d’etre of the organization. Its prime function is to define measures of success (ie are we achieving what we intended to be?)

The Mission Statement can change over time but should always relate back to the organisation’s core values and vision.

An excellent example of a clear Mission Statement would be:

Our vision is to be the world’s best quick service restaurant experience. Being the best means providing outstanding quality, service, cleanliness and value, so that we make every customer in every restaurant smile.

Can you guess who this is? Yep, it’s McDonald’s.


The Vision of any organization should be about “What they want to become”.Again a relatively short statement that answers the question What do we want to be?” It is primarily about the future.

A good Vision Statement clearly articulates where the organisation sees itself some years from now. It should be inspirational and motivational. Its prime function is to give people an understanding of what they are trying to achieve within the organisation.

The Vision Statement should not change, even in difficult market conditions, because it’s about what the organisation wants to be, not what it is currently doing.

Both the Mission and the Visionare about communication to key stakeholders both internal and external which is why they are predominantly found on the organisation’s web pages (or should be).


Having established “What they want to be” the organisation’s strategy is more internally focussed and is about “How the Vision is going to be achieved”.

A good Strategy is closely aligned to the Mission and particularly the Vision of an organisation. It ensures that the Key Objectives are articulated and understood and that specific “Strategies/Activities to deliver the change”are agreed and communicated.


Objectives are what need to be achieved and must always have tangible targets set and need to be measurable.

Objectives can be articulated in many ways. This could be anything from “Growing sales by 20% pa” to “Reducing acquisition costs per customer by 10%” and are normally cascaded down through the organization.

Critical Success Factors

Many organizations specifically articulate what the Critical Success Factors will be. These can be both tangible and intangible such as “All new business processed on single application”.

Key Performance Indicators

Without targets the organization doesn’t know where it needs to get to, and without measurements it wouldn’t know where it was at any given time. Key Performance Indicators are the important measurements that will determine whether success has been achieved.

Key Tactics

The Key Tactics are the actual tasks that will happen to drive the change. These can be a combination of large, medium and small projects or simply enhanced business as usual activity in perhaps a more efficient way.

The Executive Assistant’s role

In our Advanced Certificate for the Executive Assistant one of the key characteristics of an effective Executive Personal Assistant is discussed. This characteristic is the “Ability to understand the Business Strategy”.

Effective Personal Assistant

So why is this so important?

The general consensus from delegates is that this is the key characteristic because without this knowledge the Executive Assistant is working in the dark. Without knowing what is important and what is not important how can the Executive Assistant prioritise? How do they know what the executive wants done first or who should take priorities for meetings etc?

Richard Arnott, BA, FInatAM, FIToL, is the Director of BMTG (UK) Ltd, and the author and lead presenter of the groundbreaking, globally recognised Advanced Certificate for the Executive Assistant: ACEA® program. Richard also sits on the editorial board of ... (Read More)

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