There was a time in business history when one would think the importance of developing strategic plans by creating vision, mission, and value statements was overrated. This feeling was so because many corporate bodies didn’t fully understand these powerful tools’ dynamics and intricacies. It was basically seen as a corporate branding move, hence gulping a lot of funds in putting them together. As if that wasn’t bad enough, because end users didn’t see its need beyond brand imaging, they hardly tweaked it to suit their business realities as years passed. Looking back now, one would appreciate that nothing is cast in stone when it comes to them.
Although I am unsure if categorizing them as strategic planning tools is fair enough, an organization’s vision, mission, values, and purpose do much more than strategy. They all drive the three-fold chord – leadership, culture, and master plan, that binds any business together. This article will help illuminate the need to answer the where, how, and why questions that bring about the vision, mission, and great purpose, respectively, as they relate to corporate culture.
Vision, as the name suggests, depicts an organization’s aspirations. Therefore, internalizing these ideals drives accountability and performance, traits of high-performance organizational culture. Aside from the fact that a profound vision drives accountability, it’s subject to change due to factors such as actualization, diversification, divestment, and other micro and macro-economic factors. The tricky side of vision lies in picking the right words that do not dwell much on time and rivalry. Hence, the recent emergence of a thin line between vision and mission. This blur between the vision and mission makes for mission statements to justify what motivates an organization to serve its customers/clients and why it’s passionate about the solution it’s providing the market.
Analyzing Nike’s mission statement will help briefly explain the recent thin line between vision and mission. Their mission statement says, “Nike exists to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. Our purpose is to move the world forward through the power of sport – breaking barriers and building community to change the game for all. *If you have a body, you are an athlete.” Even though the first sentence in the Nike statement represents the vision that reveals that they aspire to be on everyone’s feet, the message is clear and void of rivalry. The second sentence interestingly combines the company’s purpose and mission in a way anyone can relate. Every stakeholder, be it an employee, employer, or shareholder, should be proud of moving the world forward through their mastery of sportswear craftsmanship and confident that they are helping people break barriers and build game-changing communities through innovation. However, tempted we are to shower praise, pride, pay, pomp, and pageantry on the Nike mission statement, it will be lifeless and mere words if it’s not driven the way it should. However nice, intelligently worded, and carefully crafted business ideals are, engagement brings them to life.
Making a company’s aspirations, goals, values, and purpose available and accessible is just the tip of the iceberg compared to making them exist
Organizational goals represent the mission. Mission often answers what and how questions by telling what gets done to actualize the envisioned destination. Companies taking things a notch higher by stating purpose is a welcome development; however, what seems difficult now is organizations finding their whys. I recently engaged the CEO of a newly acquired bank with the why question. For some good minutes, he couldn’t give me a correct answer. At first, his reaction was, “Isn’t it obvious?” which indirectly meant to make money, of course. However, an organization’s great purpose should be way above and beyond itself or its interest. It must and should depict its role in the grand scheme of things, which is way beyond making money or building a formidable clientele base. The moment the CEO got the hang of this, he cracked the code and charted a strong plan for the organization for the next three hours unaided. Joy often floods my clients’ eyes whenever they have the ha-ha moment; this gives me pleasure every time.
When Laura Appleton, an HR Senior Director with Arc’teryx Equipment, and her team traveled the globe to drive the organizational culture using the company’s vision, mission, and value statements, little did she know the tremendous impact they would have even on the bottom line. Having personally experienced the shift from survival mode to self-actualization by internalizing and living the core values and ideals of organizations she’s worked for; she was fully persuaded it would work for anyone.
Regardless of any employee’s entry point, identifying their current location on the inverted engagement pyramid is critical. It is unsafe to assume that a C-Suite hire is already in the self-actualization mode where they are highly engaged, truly inspired, and completely ready and willing to help the company. Anyone can promise anything at the hiring level; knowledge or experience may not necessarily do the magic, but internalization of great corporate ideals never fails. It is so because continuous engagement on the topic and consistently living the values have a special way of guaranteeing buy-in, especially when the leadership is actively involved in making them the culture.
In the past, many leaders failed to understand the difference between availability and existence regarding these business ideals. Making a company’s aspirations, goals, values, and purpose available and accessible is just the tip of the iceberg compared to making them exist. It’s the constant involvement, awareness, interaction, and appropriate check-ins that get the job done to ensure employee buy-in.
Conclusively, having all these statements is great, but what is more crucial is getting all stakeholders to internalize them. Internalizing these strategic planning tools is extremely powerful and critical to having a great work culture that invariably supports the business strategy. The advantages span from boosting employee morale, encouraging goal alignment, increasing engagement, and enhancing creativity and productivity. Organizations should stop touting values that are neither actionable nor internalized. Even though personal values are inherent, workplace values are created to shape both work culture and outsiders’ perceptions of the business. Therefore, values need to be reflective of daily activities or every day’s work. Although it may be quite optimistic to have a snapshot of one hundred percent of the workforce in a highly engaged mode, having seventy percent there with the remaining thirty hovering between just engaged and disengaged modes would be fantastic. Not because it’s the best to achieve but because the continuous work will get others there, too.
Call to action
Write down your organization’s mission statement and identify the vision, mission, values, and purpose. This task should help you pinpoint where your organization is heading, what it plans to do to get there, and how it aims to achieve that. Also, write down the top three values of your company and try to make sense of the reason behind the entire business operation – the big WHY? Should you need help to complete this task or crack the code, please send an email to [email protected]