Vision, Mission and Values

Determining an organisation's purpose

Developing a vision, mission and values is the foundation of long term success

Vision, mission and values

The key purpose of a board of directors is to direct an organisation's affairs to meet the legitimate interests of its stakeholders. In order to be able to do this effectively, it needs to establish the organisation's culture and goals.

This is done through a vision, mission and values exercise.

 

Vision, mission and values statements have had a bad press, because they have often been developed with the help of outside consultants – and then ignored.

 

However, used properly, they can form the structure and context for major decision making and communication with employees, shareholders and other stakeholders.

 

Vision

A vision is a picture of the future created in the imagination, and communicated in a way that motivates others to act.

 

Vision means the desired future of the organisation; how it wants people to describe the entity when it has achieved its mission.

A vision is a picture of the future created in the imagination, and communicated in a way that motivates others to act.

 

Possessing a vision means having the ability to create and effectively communicate a picture of the future that builds on a realistic understanding of the present.

 

A vision helps unite people towards a purpose. Creating and living a vision is the role of leaders in organisations. They have to espouse it and help others to believe it. Most important, a vision should inspire people to want to work for you or do business with you.

 

Creating and living a vision is the role of leaders in organisations. They must espouse it and help others to believe it.

 

Mission

A mission is the overall purpose of an organisation: what you do, who you do it for, and how and why you do it. It sets boundaries on the organisation's current activities.

 

A mission statement is a description of the organisation's key purposes.  It is a unifying statement of what an organisation is in business to do. It is a key reference point in the planning and implementation of change.

 

How are you unique from everyone else out there? What is your unique selling proposition?

  • What problem(s) do you solve? What need(s) do you fulfil?
  • What do you sell? How do you make your money?
  • Who will you sell to? What is your target market?
  • What are your economic/financial goals?
  • What are your social/community goals?

Values

Values are the beliefs of an organisation, the expression of what it stands for and how it will conduct itself.

 

Values are the core of an organisation's being, they help to distinguish this organisation from others. They underpin policies, objectives, procedures and strategies because they provide an anchor and a reference point for all things that happen.

 

There are two categories of value.  Generic values of honesty, integrity and trust, etc. are essential in any organisation.  However, the existence of these values is unlikely to differentiate it from its competitors. 

 

The values that matter in a vision, mission and values exercise are the ones that define the organisation and communicate its particular character.  Three to five values would be plenty.

 

Values cannot be seen or touched.  They only exist when interpreted as behaviours.  Any values exercise should, therefore, include worked case studies of how each value would be applied in practice.

 

Values are closely related to beliefs, which are statements about what is important and “how things are done round here”.

 

Vision, mission and values statement

A mission statement is a collection of words, created collaboratively, that summarise what an organisation is intended to look like.

 

Its purpose is to provide focus and serve as a reminder of where the organisation is going. It helps to determine strategy and policy, and how the organisation operates, and helps to keep the focus on the strengths of the company.

 

It should include references to the various stakeholders in the business and, sometimes, broader societal interests.

 

It helps to determine strategy and policy, and how the organisation operates.

 

A successful vision, mission and values statement accomplishes six goals:

  • gives a sense of the future
  • guides decision making and strategy
  • creates a shared purpose
  • provides guidelines that determine behaviour
  • inspires emotion
  • connects to values

What is purpose?

A company's purpose is more than a mission statement or a vision cast from the C-suite. When it comes to communicating an organisation's purpose to its employees, customers and stakeholders, words don't matter nearly as much as actions do.

 

At its core, a company's purpose is a bold affirmation of its reason for being in business. It conveys what the organisation stands for in historical, ethical, emotional and practical terms. No matter how it is communicated to employees and customers, a company's purpose is the driving force that enables a company to define its true brand and create its desired culture.

 

However, leaders face an ongoing challenge to make that purpose real, and this starts with their employees.

 

One of the most powerful ways to bring a company's purpose to life is to allow it to steer crucial decisions.

 

Strategic decisions are commonly made based on data and projections, but an organisation's purpose provides a consistent guide for those decisions over the long term. In many cases, short-term decisions may conflict with a company's purpose and its long-term strategic goals.

 

Establishing and positioning a company for long-term success sometimes requires giving up short-term revenue gains that don't align with its purpose.

 

To focus on purpose find a way to express the organisation’s impact on the lives of customers, clients, students, patients — whomever you’re trying to serve. Make them feel it.

Determining the culture

The board has ultimate responsibility for determining the vision, mission and values of an organisation?

 

The best way to do this is for the whole board to go away on a residential corporate retreat with an experienced facilitator.

Robert Dilts' Logical Levels model is one of the tools we use for both reviewing a culture and developing a formal statement.

Asking the following questions will help you identify the current culture: -

  • What is the external environment you operate in – products, geography, regulation etc.?
  • What is the internal environment of your organisation – physical, social and emotional?
  • What do you actually do in your organisation, what are the core processes that are critical to your success and distinguish you from others?
  • What are your skills and competences – how do they relate to your core processes and differentiate you from others?
  • What are the beliefs and values of the organisation – both those formally expressed and those demonstrated by behaviours?
  • What is your organisation's identity – is it cutting edge, reliable, agile, technical, social; is it a sporting, military, family or bureaucratic analogy; is it transformational etc.?
  • Finally, what is your organisation for – how does it contribute to society, what about it inspires your staff and customers?
  • When you have the answers, then check – is this what you really want; how could it be better; what else could you aspire to?
  • Are the answers at each level fully congruent with the others?

  • Are they sufficiently challenging, yet realistic and likely to encourage the intended level of innovation and risk taking?

You can then introduce changes that will move the organisation towards your ideal. This formal culture will provide a firm base onto which to build goals and strategy.

 

Corporate governance

When you have determined your organisation's vision, mission and values, it is essential that the board demonstrates leadership to communicate, endorse and implement them.

  • Are they driven by the chairman and managing director, and endorsed by all the other board members?

  • What practical activities are taken to communicate them throughout the organisation?

  • Are strategies consistent with them and consistent with each other?

  • Are strategies and operations monitored and reviewed regularly to ensure long term consistency with the vision, mission and values?

Conclusion

If you take the trouble to address these issues and communicate them to every employee, customer and supplier, you will have a powerful tool that will affect every hiring, every decision, both management and strategic, and every communication.

Its effect can be magic.

Facilitators for vision, mission and values

Developing a vision, mission and values is the foundation for long term success. It is a serious business, which takes time, and commitment.

  • A vision helps unite people towards a purpose. Creating and living a vision is the role of leaders in organisations. They have to espouse it and help others to believe it.
  • A mission statement is a unifying statement of what an organisation is in business to do. It is a key reference point in the planning and implementation of change.
  • Values are the beliefs of an organisation, the expression of what it stands for and how it will conduct itself.

Brefi Group has a proven process for identifying and developing vision, mission and values statements, built around Robert Dilts' Logical Levels model.

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