This paper examines the Coca Cola Company, and whether its mission, vision, and values statements reflect the company's actual approach to business. While the paper concludes that, taken individually, the mission, vision, and values statements are insufficient to apprise stakeholders of Coca Cola's future goals; taken together they form a strong picture of where Coca Cola is and where it wants to be in the future. Moreover, Coca Cola's overall strategy, that of sustainable, long-term growth, can be seen in its mission, vision, and values statements.
Coca Cola is a huge international business, which sells soft drinks and other products in countries around the world. However, as large as Coca Cola is, it has made its reputation not simply because of its namesake soft drink, but also because the company has managed to capture a feeling. Drinking a coke is not simply an act of hydration, but goes beyond that. It is because Coca Cola has managed to go beyond being a mere soft drink company that it has attained such a high market share in the United States, and in many other countries, as well. As the world continues to change, Coca Cola has to change, as well, to continue to thrive. The company's current mission, vision, and values statements not only reflect the company's current concerns, but also demonstrate how the company plans to forward its growth for the next decade.
Coca Cola's mission, values, and vision statements make it clear that Coca-Cola has a goal: sustainable, quality growth. Like Michael Porter would suggest, Coca Cola is not concerned with fostering explosive, unsustainable growth. Instead, Coca Cola realizes that dismissing strategy as incompatible with a quickly changing marketplace, "reflects a deeply flawed view of competition," and chooses strategy over the limitless flexibility of a company that has no strategy (Hammonds, 2001). In fact, strategy can help a company respond to change. "Simply, put strategic planning identifies where the organization wants to be at some point in the future and how it is going to get there. The "strategic" part of this planning process is the continual attention to current changes in the organization and its external environment, and how this affects the future of the organization" (McNamara, 2009, Developing).
Discussion and Analysis
A company's mission statement is critical, because it conveys to all stakeholders, both internal and external, where the company is and where the company wants to be in the future. The mission statement is generally going to be very concise, "The mission statement communicates the firm's core ideology and visionary goals, generally consisting of the following three components: 1. Core values to which the firm is committed; 2. Core purpose of the firm; [and] 3. Visionary goals the firm will pursue to fulfill its mission" (Internet Center for Management and Business Administration, 2010, Business Vision). By that definition, Coca Cola's mission statement falls flat. According to Coca Cola, its mission "declares our purpose as a company and serves as a standard against which we weigh our actions and decision. To refresh the world…To inspire moments of optimism and happiness…To create value and make a difference" (Coca Cola, 2011). That mission statement gives very little insight into where the company hopes to be in the future, because it is very vague. However, it is clear that Coca Cola intends for its mission statement to be read in conjunction with its values and vision. In fact, Coca Cola refers to its mission as the start of the roadmap for the business (Coca Cola, 2011).
Coca Cola's mission statement may be the most troubling aspect of its mission, vision, values triad. The problem is that the vision is vague, and does not really explain how Coca Cola will accomplish the goal of becoming the company to refresh the world. That statement, in and of itself, may speak to dominating market share around the globe, but how will that impact consumers, employees, stockholders, and community members? Nothing in the mission statement provides enough information to answer those basic questions. However, a mission statement needs to be short in order to be memorable. Therefore, though the mission statement leads the stakeholder wondering how Coca Cola will accomplish the lofty goals in its mission statement, as long as the rest of the company's strategy puts foundations under those statements, they are adequate.
"A vision is a statement about what your organization wants to become. It should resonate with all members of the organization and help them feel proud, excited, motivated, and part of something much bigger than themselves. A vision should stretch the organization's capabilities and image of itself. The vision gives shape and direction to the organization's future" (Heathfield, 2009). Coca Cola says that its vision serves as the framework for the roadmap and describes what the company needs to accomplish in order to achieve sustainable, quality growth (Coca Cola, 2011). Unlike the mission, Coca Cola's vision statement becomes specific and speaks to the needs of the individual stakeholders in the company. Coca Cola meets the challenge of having its vision statement resonate with all stakeholders by addressing the various concerns that stakeholders might have and breaking their vision into six components: people, portfolio, partners, planet, profit, and productivity. "People: Be a great place to work where people are inspired to be the best they can be. Portfolio: Bring to the world a portfolio of quality beverage brands that anticipate and satisfy people's desires and needs. Partners: Nurture a winning network of customers and suppliers, together we create mutual, enduring values. Planet: Be a responsible citizen that makes a difference by helping build and support sustainable communities. Profit: Maximize long-term return to shareowners while being mindful of our overall responsibilities. Productivity: Be a highly effective, lean and fast-moving organization" (Coca Cola, 2011).
It is important to realize that even the order of presenting the items in the vision statement is part of strategy. Coca Cola did not randomly put these components in order; they stress people to convey the message that people come first. Another component of Coca Cola's vision is that it discusses customers in terms of partnership, giving greater ownership of the relationship to its customers and consumers. This constantly reaffirms the idea that people come first. There are so many implications in those statements, and one expects that a company that places people first will not make hiring and firing decisions based solely on economic factors, subject their employees to dangerous work situations, or engage in the type of intentional misrepresentation that big tobacco engaged in when discussing the health consequences of its product. This allows all stakeholders to have some understanding of the impact of their actions, whether that action is taking a sip of a Coke or purchasing a large amount of Coca Cola stock.
"Values represent the core priorities in the organization's culture, including what drives members' priorities and how they truly act in the organization, etc. Values are increasingly important in strategic planning. They often drive the intent and direction for 'organic' planners" (McNamara, 2009, Basics). Coca Cola continues the explorer-theme with its introduction to its values, by calling its values the compass for its actions. That is a critical way to look at corporate values, because a stakeholder should be able to look at a proposed action and at a value statement and determine whether or not the action aligns with a company's stated values. Coca Cola's values include: leadership, collaboration, integrity, accountability, passion, diversity, and quality (Coca Cola, 2011). "Leadership: The courage to shape a better future. Collaboration: leverage collective genius. Integrity: Be real. Accountability: If it is to be, it's up to me. Passion: Committed in heart and mind. Diversity: As inclusive as our brands. Quality: What we do, we do well" (Coca Cola, 2011).
Coca Cola's values provide an interesting combination of individuality and collaboration. They emphasize personal courage, being authentic, passion, and accountability. However, they also look at group orientation, which emphasizes the idea that the company runs as a collective whole. Each person is expected to take accountability and responsibility, but they are expected to do so in order to accomplish the common goals. The values do not really speak to all of the stakeholders. For example, a person drinking a Coca Cola beverage is not considering the other values, but will be judging whether Coca Cola has managed to provide a delicious beverage. That said, Coca Cola's extensive advertising brings its values into people's lives in different ways. For example, in the United States, Coca Cola sponsors American Idol, a singing competition that features a diverse group of passionate individuals singing well. Coca Cola is also very visible for its financial support of various charitable organizations. Therefore, it extends those values throughout its corporate philosophy, so that even consumers can feel somewhat connected to those values.
Although, taken individually, Coca Cola's mission, values, and vision statements may be lacking, taken as a whole they work together to give…