This topic has always been close to heart since I have experienced both the good and bad side of it. Recently I answered a question on LinkedIn on this topic and thought it would be a good idea to share it.
Here is what I replied:
"I believe that it has to do with leadership. Vision and Mission statement like many other things are part of a company’s culture and organizational development, and have everything to do with motivation and leadership. In order for Mission and Vision to have an effect in an organization, the people have to
1) Know them
2) Understand them
3) Believe in them
In most cases Mission and Vision are known at best, rarely are they understood by anybody else other than the team that came up with them, and even more rarely to people truly believed in them. Intriguingly, when people believe in these statements they are not really necessary, since at that point they are simply part of the companies’ culture. In such cases you will also observe a correlation between strong leadership and organizational focus.
So it really doesn’t help to keep pushing these to people to remember or memorize the statement, you have to motivate them to know, understand, and believe in it."
You can view the whole thread here.
But really what prompted me to write this posting is a proverb I came across:
"Tell me, I forget. Show me, I remember. Involve me, I understand."
-- Chinese Proverb