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An Approach to Help you Create a Vision and Mission for your Organization

plan-1616237_1920Recently I was reminded of the importance of having a Vision and Mission statement for your organization. Especially when it comes to planning the future of your company in some we call a strategic plan. In my book (SET for Success: a roadmap to transform your business), I dedicated a section in Part Three called ‘Know Where You Want to Go’ to help you. The first chapter in this section is focused on creating your vision and mission statement. The following is from my book on creating your vision and mission statement.

The Foundation to Every Business: Know Where You are Going

At some point every organization should consider what they are about and where they are going. In the business world this is called having a vision and mission. Vision and mission are at the foundation of good planning. Not only do they tie directly into your strategic next steps, they anchor your decision making by providing a sense of purpose and direction.

Related Article: 11 Steps To Strategic Analysis, Planning And Implementation Success

What if your stakeholders, either internal or external, couldn’t articulate what your organization or business is all about? This would have a negative impact on your business, as no one would be able to communicate your overall purpose, either to themselves or to others. Without a clear vision and mission, people will not know what to focus on. Vision and mission provide clarity of purpose and can transform the way people see your organization. A vision and mission should be something that stirs the emotions, is universally understood, and makes people willing to share it with others.

Apply an Approach to Create Your Vision Statement (future focused)

There are many approaches to creating a vision statement that is future focused. I have used the following approach many times with great success.

Imagine that you’re reading a newspaper five years from now and that the front pages of Global Mail, theNational Post, the New York Times, or the Wall Street Journalhave big news about your company.  Imagine that this is the best possible news you could ever read. Write down the headline of the story and the main points of the story.  Make sure you include the critical decisions the company has made in the past ten years to reach this point. (Don’t worry; you can always change the time frame.)

Consider these questions:

  • What does the article highlight about your organization?
  • What does it say about the uniqueness about your organization?
  • What services does it report that you are providing?
  • What does it tell you about how you’re changed in the past five years?
  • What is the recognizable condition you would hope to have in place in the next five years?

Change any time frames or items that help you build on these ideas.

Steps You Can Take to Create a Mission (purpose focused)

How to create a mission statement that has both life and vitality? One way is hold a brainstorming session centered on the following questions:

  1. Who are we? (Focusing on internal relationships)
  2. Whom do we serve?  (I.e. who are our stakeholders?)
  3. What do we do? (I.e. what business are we in?)
  4. How do we do it? (What are the values by which we operate?)

Next, turn the answers to these questions into a mission statement that anchors your organization or project. Your people can and should be able to do this, and having them do so will both help them have a sense of being connected, as well as breathe life into what you and your organization is all about.

Know the Reasons Why

Establish a Culture:  This should speak for itself. Unfortunately that is not always the case. What you say you are about, where you want to go and the way you walk that talk connects people and builds community and your business culture. A mission statement is about purpose. People need to be connected with purpose. So create a purpose.

Guiding Decision Making: A properly crafted vision and mission helps in decision making, especially if the culture walks the talk. For example, it makes more sense to select a vendor to work with who aligns with your vision and mission than one that does not. This thinking can also apply to project decision making. It would be inappropriate for managers to make decisions that did not align with the organizations purpose and future direction.

Leading Performance: People and performance are negatively impacted when companies do not have a vision or mission statement. You vision and mission should be part of your performance management program. It helps to standardize programs for hiring, compensating, and training people.

Rowing in the Same Direction: The senior management team must agree on the purpose of the organization and its direction. This is accomplished through having the best vision and mission statement that they can work together to succeed. The management team plays a vital role in walking the talk and encouraging people to be part of the team rowing in the same direction. For vision and mission truly to work, everyone needs to be fully on board. If they aren’t, then dock the boat and let them get off.

Building a visionary company requires one percent vision and 99 percent alignment, Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, Built to Last Click To Tweet

Don’t Kid Yourself, This Isn’t Easy

I have watch business leaders and teams make all sorts of mistakes when it comes to creating vision and mission statements for their organizations. Some of those mistakes include:

  • A president of a company deciding to use the vision and mission of another company and altering the words a little so they could use it. Think about what that says about the company and to the employees.
  • Another president engaged his people in creating a vision and mission for the organization but when it was done, he said, “I don’t get it” and put up his own statement instead. This company had a lot of staff turnover and are not in business today.
  • Using corp-speak to present the companies vision and mission. Corp-speak are the language you use in your business not any other person in every day life uses. The best written vision and mission statements are written for your audience. Not for you.
  • Business leaders underestimating the time it takes to properly develop a well crafted vision and mission statement that people can get behind and support. Sometimes you get lucky and your vision and mission comes fast but for most organizations this is not the case. This makes sense, since what we are talking about is purpose and direction.
  • Not allowing teams to create aligning statements as a way to connect and support the overarching vision and mission. One approach to creating linkage is allowing departments and teams to create connecting vision and mission statements. For example, when the organization’s statement is complete teams hold their own meeting and answer the same questions for vision and mission with the idea that they write a short statement that connects with the organizations statement. If done properly teams and individuals see how they fit in. This creates alignment and can be used for other purposes.

Final Thoughts

It’s very difficult to plan the success of other parts of your business without clarity of mission (what you are all about) and vision (what it is you want to achieve). There are many impacts, positive and negative. The reality is you would not be where you are without foresight and a sense of purpose. As business leaders and senior management, it is imperative that you ensure you have clarity of purpose and foresight, that you live it, and that you communicate it to your stakeholders. A properly developed vision and mission statement provides a bases for communications with your audience is the best possible way. The most important thing, everyone needs to understand it, embrace it and be on the bus going in the same direction.

Do your best, Invest in the success of others, Make your journey count. Richard. 

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