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The Toolkit – Part 1: Foundations (10) – early stage mission statements

It’s possible that in the early stages of your project or organisation you have no clear idea about how to make progress towards your vision.

This is fine. In these cases you can choose to:

  • delay officially launching and sharing about your organisation’s mission until you have a better sense of direction
  • make research your first mission, and iterate on your mission statement as the next step becomes clearer

Research orientated mission statement


“Our mission is to find out which approaches to improving literacy outcomes for children are most likely to succeed in Indonesia.”

A mission statement like this might be carried out with a review of available research literature, or with original research, or with action research that involves trying out several interventions and doing your best to measure their effectiveness, or a combination of the three.

Here’s something similar from the RISE program:

RISE seeks to understand what features make education systems coherent and effective in their context, and how the complex dynamics within a system allow policies to be successful. We hope that lessons generated from the Programme will lead to positive policy change and can be used to concentrate resources and efforts to accelerate the rate of learning in developing countries.

RISE Background Statement

It’s a bit vague in terms of both vision and mission, but the aim of the program is clear: “to understand”, and to “generate lessons”. Describing positive policy change and accelerating the rate of learning in developing countries as “hopes” suggests that these are beyond the scope of the program.

Pivoting your mission statement

Once you have a better idea of what’s needed, you can revise your mission statement and keep iterating and pivoting follow the customer discovery and customer development approach advocated by Steve Blank and Alexander Osterwalder of the Business Model Canvas.

I'd love to hear your thoughts and recommended resources...