Defining the keys for success

Minnesota Local History Blog.

Minnesota Local History Blog.

Advice and help with building history capacity.

The Minnesota Historical Society’s Local History Services helps Minnesotans preserve and share their history. This blog is a resource of best practices on the wide variety of museum, preservation, conservation, funding, and non-profit management topics. We’re here to help.

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Defining the keys for success

By: grabitsdm | March 16, 2010
In Key Statements for Success we looked at the need to keep organic statements up to date. In the 1920s and onward when people were just beginning to learn about history work, it was important to thoroughly expound on that work. Key statements evolved over the 20th century. Today there are often three key statements, and these need to have a purpose for today.

A room full of experts would likely come up with as many definitions for each statement as there are people in the room. After nearly 20 years of working with local history organizations in Minnesota, what each of these means to me is as follows:

Mission Statement

Answers the question, “Why are we doing this?”

Level: Aspirational

Primary Audience: Organization’s governance

Length: One short sentence


Vision Statement

Answers the question, “Where are we going?”

Level: Motivational

Primary Audience: Organization’s workers

Length: 2-3 paragraphs


Values Statement

Answers the question, “How are we going about our work?”

Level: Inspirational

Primary Audience: Organization’s supporters

Length: 4-6 words with explanations