I recently did a mini survey of companies to try and determine how clear, or otherwise, they are about their vision and their mission. Interesting exercise I can tell you! A number of things were clear from the responses but if I had to pick three key points they would be:
- There is a definite lack of clarity when it comes to vision – generalization I know, but definitely true!
- There is ambiguity between what a vision is and what a mission is.
- Most of the visions shared with me could do with a bit more excitement, if I am to be honest!
Yes, indeed the future is blurry! I know there are tomes written and forests felled to provide the paper for all that has been written about vision and mission, but let me give you my tuppence worth to clarify how I define vision and mission. Vision clearly demonstrates where you want the business to be – it communicates the purpose and the values. It answers the question – “Where do you intend to be?” Mission articulates what you will do to get there, and what you will deliver to your customers. Here are some examples:
Vision – Focus on the user and all else will follow.
Mission – To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
Vision – To be the most successful and respected car company in America.
Mission – To attract and attain customers with high-valued products and services and the most satisfying ownership experience in America.
Interestingly, the two are quite different, but where they want to go is very clear – as well as how they intend going about it.
Not wishing to position myself among Google or Toyota I thought I would share my own!
My vision is to help my clients win at business and life.
My mission is to coach top teams, executives and business owners to perform at their highest level possible.
Truthfully, my vision and mission are the absolute drivers of my business and I am thoroughly passionate about fulfilling them! It motivates me every day and helps me determine the most important things I should be doing at any one time!
Why is a vision and mission important?
So, why am I going on about vision and mission? Because they are absolutely critical to long term success. They are your guiding light, your North Star or however you want to describe them. You can look at those and then you know whether you are going in the right direction or not. In the absence of having clarity around your vision and mission, you can end up just being a busy fool! Lots of activity but no clear focus. The beauty of having real clarity about your vision and mission is that it gives you context for everything you do.
Now, when decisions have to be made about allocating resource – be that people, time or money, all of which are extremely valuable! – you can now view whether that decision is going to get you closer to the achievement of your vision or not. For your people, it is critical that there is extraordinary clarity around your vision. You see we all want to belong to a cause that has a real meaning, and when we go to work, it is no different. Your people want to do more than just turn up for work and get paid! They absolutely do! They want to feel that what they are doing is making a contribution – and that it matters! The alternative is drudgery – there is no heart and soul involved. Also, they will not believe that the future is exciting! How can they? There is no future painted for them. The consequence is an under performing workforce, and one with a high turnover. Not where you want to be! Those organisations who get this vision piece right have a more committed workforce enjoy a more highly productive workforce who will always go that extra mile for you. If your major focus is only on where you are going to generate revenue next month’s, or next year’s income, then your sights are too low – and you are likely to always be in survival mode.
That is not an invigorating objective for your people – it just sounds like squeezing the orange dry! Aim high – set your vision and mission to be something worth going for – and something that will make a difference! Then go about sharing it with your people – again – and again! You can never communicate too much!! Please, don’t settle for mediocrity – set out your stall to be of some significant worth. Share the output from your thinking with me – I love hearing what you are working on. Don’t worry about getting it word perfect – you can get that right afterwards. Just get the sense, significance and emotion of it.
Come on, hit me with your drafts of vision and mission – it will be worth the effort, for you and your business. I promise you!