Fostering an Engaged and Empowered Team: Developing Mission, Vision, and Values Statements to Build Authenticity and Belonging


Brief Abstract

Mission vision and values statements are essential to building an inclusive, engaged, and empowered culture within your online course development team. But how do you ensure your statements will be meaningful and long-lasting?  This presentation will detail strategies and demonstrate a whole-team approach for creating your own MVV development project.

Extended Abstract

As more colleges and universities expand the development of dedicated online instructional design departments that create content and support for market-sensitive online programs, the need to focus staff awareness on organizational culture and strategic initiatives has gained importance. This became significantly evident during the COVID-19 pandemic when instructional design, instructional technology, and online learning support units in many institutions became over-utilized. As a result, these teams are prone to suffer fatigue and burn-out from being pulled in competing directions while also providing various levels of support. Given this challenging environment, incorporating a whole-team approach to developing mission, vision, and values statements (MVV) can offer the perfect opportunity to build team cohesion, create consensus around the definition of quality, and ultimately improve the experiences of online learners. It can also provide an opportunity for the team to be united in its direction, with clearly defined core responsibilities and a set of ideals for interactions with others.

Lassiter (2019) asserted that “nothing great is ever really achieved without people. Excellence is about people”. At the same time, “People want purpose and meaning from their work. They want to be known for what they're good at” (Gallup). When people find meaning in their work, they’re more intrinsically motivated, more engaged, and more committed. According to Amabile and Kramer (2012), a well-articulated mission statement is where to start the communication with employees about their contributions to these meaningful endeavors. In addition, a vision will create a long-term goal of a team and help everyone in the team to align with it (Meyer-Cuno, 2021). It creates a mental image of the ideal state that the organization wishes to achieve. It is inspirational and aspirational. Furthermore, the core principles i.e. the values of an organization provides guidance and serves as a moral compass for the organization and its employees (SHRM). 

Development of mission, vision, and values statements are essential to the culture and direction of a successful organization. Yet, these critical elements are often overlooked or underappreciated for a division in the higher education environment. Individual departments are often expected to adopt existing MVV statements from the parent school, college, or university as their own. And when an opportunity to create a departmental set of MVV statements arises due to new leadership or a revised strategic change, department leaders may hesitate after considering the commitment of resources to a project not directly related to course design and development. Departmental leadership may also attempt to take a shortcut by assigning themselves the responsibility of creating mission, vision, and values statements and then sharing the result as a completed effort with no input from staff or external stakeholders. Leadership’s expectation is for staff to accept these statements “from on high” without an opportunity for staff input or meaningful discussion regarding their purpose. This can result in a “check-the-box” outcome with little to show but wasted hours and limited impact towards improvement.

Our course development team conducted a mission, vision and values project that involved a bottom-up inclusive process. This exercise served to reunite our team around a common theme: mission vision and values. It also provided the team with the opportunity to build their confidence and pride, and also realign with the team's direction.

Our presentation explores the stages of creating meaningful, long-lasting mission, vision, and values statements by sharing our team’s experiences of development over a four-month window in 2022. We will examine key stages of MVV development: planning, initiation, idea capture, data review, drafting, feedback, and rollout.  We will provide the audience with insight into our focus on a commitment to an inclusive process. We’ll share our method for gaining staff engagement and the unexpected challenges and successes we encountered as staff participation increased. We’ll also include our approach to capturing ideas, processing raw data, and discerning common themes that would evolve into meaningful draft statements. And we’ll include our process for ensuring confidence in the value of our finalized statements and the technique we used with the entire staff to actualize their meaning.

Together with the authors, the audience will review the following aspects and answer some questions of the MVV development project. Why do we want to conduct the project? Is it just lip service or a statement on our website? What does it do for us? How did we start the project? Who was involved in the project? Why did we involve anyone outside of our unit? What did we go through? What activities were involved? Where are we now? What are our next steps and plans? How are we going to find out whether we’re successful?  We believe the audience will consider these questions just as our staff did throughout the development process.

By the end of the session, the audience will find answers to the above questions and be able to take our suggested methods back to their team.  We hope that these methods will be helpful for the team leaders within the audience to re-unite their team members and clarify their own team’s core responsibilities and direction. The authors hope that our case study will help the audience find value from our practice by answering these questions.

The audience will be engaged through questions the authors pose throughout the session. The authors will also engage the audience in some of the activities we conducted during our project so that the audience will experience some of the scenarios we went through during our project. In addition, the authors will provide some tools from our project, such as sample survey questions, activity script and methods, and planning ideas, etc. 


Amabile, T. and Kramer, S. (2012, December 19). To Give Your Employees Meaning, Start With Mission. Harvard Business Review.,one%20neighborhood%20at%20a%20time.&text=Build%20the%20best%20product%2C%20cause,solutions%20to%20the%20environmental%20crisis 

Meyer-Cuno, D. (2021, Feb 24). Is A Vision Statement Important? Forbes. 

Lassiter, B. S. (2019, March 20). Excellence is About People, Part 1: Engaging & Empowering your Team — PEN Mar 2019. Performance, Excellence, Network

What Is Employee Engagement and How Do You Improve It? Gallup. Retrieved Oct. 22, 2022, from