Mission, Vision, Values, Mandate: an “Aha!” Moment

Staff Post
By Heather Young

In addition to being Principal at Young Associates, I am also a proud member of Arts Consultants Canada / Consultants Canadiens en arts, as are my colleagues Samantha Zimmerman, Anna Mathew, and Jerry Smith. I was privileged to be part of ACCA’s most recent strategic planning retreat, in my capacity as outgoing treasurer. Twelve of us, the current board plus “graduating” directors, shared a day of focused discussion and more than a few bursts of laughter, engaging in a three-year planning process.

As I expect many of us have done with strat planning clients, we began with a review of ACCA’s mission, vision and values. I confess that I’ve always been a little hazy on how to delineate those terms, especially when mandate is added to the mix – so I was relieved that we spent a few minutes confirming a common set of definitions.

At last, it all makes sense!

Mission captures the practical, desired outcome: what should happen because of what we do? Who are we serving, and who benefits from our work? It is an expression of structure, and appeals to the head – our rational side.

The vision is aspirational. It’s a dream that may or may not come true. Captured in a brief, inspiring sentence – think postcard, not novel – it appeals to the heart. 

Values are the principles that guide our actions: the compass that helps ensure we stay on the right track.

As for mandate, there was a small difference of views. Some would see it as synonymous with mission. Another view positions it as a legal term that captures our relationship with the government. This makes complete sense to me: for most organizations, the mandate statement in their articles of incorporation or letters patent is drier and more general than the directive they articulate for their strategic plan.

Remember Star Trek?

Well, the vision of the Federation might run something like, “that humanity achieve a more complete understanding of itself through exploring the universe.”

The five-year mission is articulated in Captain Kirk’s iconic opening narration: “to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

The values, embodied in the Prime Directive, have inspired endless discussion in fan literature to this day, as a quick Google search will confirm!

And, I expect that somewhere within the files of the Federation’s legal department we could find a mandate statement, couched in formal terms, capturing all of the above from a governance standpoint.

As for ACCA, we had a productive and exciting day that yielded renewed mission and vision statements for the association. ACCA has now released the final version:


Arts Consultants Canada / Consultants canadiens en arts (ACCA) members are valued contributors in a thriving, creative Canada.
Les membres de Arts Consultants Canada / Consultants canadiens en arts  (ACCA) contribuent au rayonnement d'un Canada créatif et florissant.


ACCA strengthens the arts in Canada by connecting a network of experts with Canada’s arts community and by encouraging the active exchange of its members’ expertise to advance and promote the development of the sector.
L’ACCA renforce les arts au Canada en raccordant un réseau d’expert(e)s au  secteur artistique canadien ainsi qu’en encourageant un échange actif d’expertise parmi ses membres pour favoriser le secteur.

Read more about the ACCA Strategic Plan here