Vision and Mission statements: Tools for efficiency of a think tank

It serves as a beacon that directs a think tank to develop purpose and values

When a think tank is set up or undergoes a reorganisational structure, one of the first outputs, perhaps, is the Mission and Vision statements. These statements play a very important role in not only identifying activities but helps in laying a road map which is shared with stakeholders. To ensure this and to best use these statements, think tanks need to keep the following 10 points in mind:

A vision and mission statement serves as a beacon that directs a think tank to develop purpose and values. In short, it helps:

  • Articulate goals and purpose
  • Develop a strategy to align activities
  • Communicates core values and culture to all stakeholders
  • Encourage and influence teams
  • Project uniqueness of a think tank in terms of work, activities and strengths
  • Understand accountability which can be measured
  • Engage with stakeholders in many ways

The key takeaways useful for think tanks in using the Vision and Mission statements effectively include:

  • Have a clear identity by defining the unique characteristics, areas of focus, goals and purpose. It also helps to set apart think tanks from other similar bodies to ensure that the activities are aligned with the objectives set forth.
  • Define strategic planning and efforts to set a road map to identify long-term activities, achieve the same and use resources effectively.
  • Serves as a guide to set research agenda, conduct research and advocate the same. Helps in prioritising activities which are in line with the Vision and Mission statements.
  • Measures and assesses the progress of activities to see the impact and effectiveness. Holds a think tank accountable to its stakeholders by evaluating performance.
  • Inculcates a sense of purpose and love for work driving teams to make meaningful contributions towards achieving the goals.
  • Engage effectively with stakeholders by expressing clearly the statements and attract policymakers, academics and organisations to collaborate in mutual areas of interest.
  • Help communicate objectives to a wide range of audiences with a global focus.


Vision and Mission statements are useful to guide a think tank toward a direction that helps achieve set goals and objectives. However, some challenges could be encountered and they include:

Absence of clear messaging

Challenge: Unclear and ambiguous statements can confuse team members and stakeholders which often leads to inadequacy and misalignment

Probable Solution: Develop concise, clear and specific information with no jargon.

No connection between reality and the statements

Challenge: Statements may not perfectly depict the strengths and experiences of an organisation/a think tank.

Probable solution: Carry out a SWOT analysis to ensure that the statements aspire and connect to the ground reality or needs of the stakeholders.

Lack of appropriate engagement:

Challenge: No involvement of stakeholders while developing activities.

Probable solution: Include key stakeholders while developing strategies/activities. Organise workshops and meetings to ensure that there is sufficient support for the activities.

Catering to the interests of stakeholders

Challenge: Difficulties in reconciling with stakeholders’ interests when developing the statements.

Probable solution: Be transparent and seek common grounds of interest by stressing shared values and long-term benefits.

Lack of suitable communication:

Challenge: Applicable to Think Tanks and organisations working with a wide range and dispersed stakeholders.

Probable solution: Develop effective communication materials and use a wide range of channels to ensure that these reinforce messages and ideas.

Dearth of relevance:

Challenge: Statements lose importance and are not relevant if it does not elicit the interests of stakeholders.

Probable solution: Ensure that there is an ongoing activity to monitor changes in stakeholder expectations. Review and rewrite statements, if required to ensure they remain aligned with the strategic priorities and values.

Not wanting to Change:

Challenge: Resistance can be encountered when there is a change since some stakeholders are comfortable with the status quo.

Probable solution: Introduce effective change management strategies to include communication, training and space for feedback. Set expectations and clarity on the need for change and how it will help the organisation.

In short, Vision and Mission statements act as a foundation that shapes the strategy, activities and impact factors of a think tank.

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