It’s vital to every business that they have a clear idea of who they are and what they’re all about. Few owners have taken the time to distill it down or made the effort to weave it into the fabric of the company. What do the mission, vision and values for your business look like?
Many people confuse mission and vision. Here’s how we define them.
Mission — what you do best every day
Vision – what the future is like because you do what you do best every day
And the values that your company are built on is what influences your mission and vision. Each of these is critical. If you believe you’ve already sorted these out for your organization– revisit them to make sure they’re still on target and meet the following criteria:
- Are your mission and vision statements a single sentence?
- Are your values short enough that everyone on your team could memorize and recite them?
- Are all three components written in common, easy to understand language?
- Are they unique to you? Could any other business claim the exact same set?
- Are they all from the client’s/an outside perspective? Remember this is how you want others to see you.
This kind of work looks simple enough, but the truth is, it’s incredibly difficult to dig deep enough to get to answers that fit all of the criteria.
If you’ve never developed a mission, vision or defined your company’s values, it’s long overdue. Let’s start with your values.
Go someplace that inspires you to clear your head and really do some deeper thinking. For some, this will be a quiet place like sitting by a lake or in an art gallery. For others, it will be putting on some headphones in a coffee shop and immersing yourself in the energy. Hopefully you know what kind of an environment triggers your best thinking.
Most people find it’s easiest to tackle the values first. Make a list of all of the values that you want your company to have. At this stage, don’t edit or censor. Just brainstorm the list and capture every thought.
Now, pick the 5-6 that are most important to you. These are the values you are not willing to compromise on, for love or money. These should not be aspirational. These need to be foundational to your business – you should already be using them as a guide, whether you’ve articulated them before or not.
The finalists should get a yes answer to the following questions (borrowed from Jim Collins in Good to Great):
- If you were to start a new business, would you build it around this core value regardless of the industry?
- Would you want your company to continue to stand for this core value 100 years into the future?
- Would you want your business to hold this core value, even if at some point in time it became a competitive disadvantage?
- Do you believe that those who do not share this core value—those who breach it consistently – do not belong in your organization?
- Would you change jobs before giving up this core value?
- If you awoke tomorrow with more than enough money to retire comfortably for the rest of your life, would you continue to apply this core value to your productive activities?
Rank them in terms of importance. Why does this matter? Because sometimes values are in conflict with one another and you need to know which ones trump the others.
Now, that you have the values defined, are you happy with the words you’ve chosen to communicate each one? This is your opportunity to wordsmith them. After you’ve done that – you’re done with step one. Next week we’ll dig into your mission.