From Vision to Mission, Objectives and Strategies

People working in health promotion and prevention generally have a vision of a better world as the driving force at the heart of their activities. This vision is, however, not always shared across the team. Rather, an assumption is made that colleagues operate with a similar vision. It can be helpful for collaboration to make these explicit and share them, especially to articulate a common organisational philosophy in a mission statement, and concrete objectives and strategies for the work.

Vision relates to Society

Mission relates to Service Organisation

Objective relates to Intervention

Vision Statement
Key Question: “What do I want to achieve for society?“

A Vision Statement is a lively, positive image of a desirable future, a motivating picture of a new and better reality. In prevention and health promotion, a Vision Statement represents an ambitious desire for how a target group’s health behaviour and social conditions should look in the future.  It generally aims beyond what is feasible in the short term and what can be achieved with the opportunities that a single project offers. A Vision statement nourishes people’s commitment to a common cause and reflects their (professional) ethics, values and convictions for the wellbeing of people in this world.

A Vision Statement for health could read like this:

“Health and social inclusion for the socially disadvantaged“

Agreement about the Visions of individual personnel within a service organisation can lead to clearer aims, away from the individuals and their question “What can I do for society?” to a common statement on “What do we want our project to achieve for society?” A project (team) agrees on the common components of their Visions, which then serve internal communication and consistency as well as the public profile. A written version of this common “line” supports identity formation and flows on to a Mission Statement.

Mission Statement
Key Question: “What does my organisation want to achieve?”

A Mission Statement expresses the “philosophy” of a project or an organisation. It informs about the identity the organisation or project strives to build. It should be brief and concise, and it serves both direction and commitment. Apart from describing the organisation, it deals with its values, principles, ideas, methods and the quality expectations it has of its work. To develop a mission statement is a process of negotiation that should be repeated regularly because teams, performance expectations and working conditions are subject to change.

The example of a Vision Statement provided above could be reflected in a Mission Statement like this:

“We strive to promote the health of the socially disadvantaged living in our district.”

A subsequent step towards concrete statements detailing the intent represented by the Mission Statement is the formulation of objectives. These in turn lead to the development of strategies for a target group: in the case of the above example, people in a particular district who are socially disadvantaged.

Key Question: “What do I want to achieve with my intervention?“

In Participatory Quality Development, all involved jointly develop the objectives (target group, service organisation, funding body and relevant other collaborative partners).

One tool to assist with developing objectives and milestones (sub-goals) is the Local Objective and Strategy Development (ZiWi) method. SMART criteria can be used to support putting individual objectives into words. The more accurately the target group is defined, the clearer the objectives for the intervention strategy.

An objective written using the SMART criteria could read like this:

“By the year xx, more children from socially disadvantaged families in our district will have a body weight appropriate to their height, age and gender.”

To reach this objective, the intervention must include strategies to promote healthy nutrition and exercise.

Key Question: „What will I do to achieve my objective?

An intervention or strategy is an action that the project chooses to perform in order to achieve a particular objective within a particular timeframe. It can act on the level of individuals, their families, the social setting or at the population level. It is intended to influence behaviour and/or social conditions. This is illustrated in a diagram based on the work of Rolf Rosenbrock (2003) and reworked in the context of our research.

Intervention Level


Social Conditions
  information, education, counselling Influencing the social context
Individual/Family Individual nutrition advice Home visits, meeting basic needs
Social Setting(organisation, district) Education on healthy eating in child care centres and schools Provision of healthy meals in the child care centre/school
Population “Five a Day” as encouragement to eat five servings of fruit and vegetables per day Structural assistance to support socially disadvantaged families with small children (adequate level of social security payments to ensure a healthy diet for children and their parents)

In our example on healthy body weight in socially disadvantaged children in a district, a strategy for the child-care setting could look like this:

  • Provide healthy snack foods and sugar-free drinks in a child-care centre (prevention targeting the social setting).
  • Prepare healthy meals jointly with children, parents and child-care workers (behavioural prevention).