Vision, Mission and Values

Why do so many companies lack creating vision, mission and value statements? In my work I have come across many organizations that simply haven’t put the time and effort into creating them.

Are there really benefits to creating these statements? I say yes, it helps to create alignment within the organization by creating clarity among the leadership team. Providing clarity helps to create a framework or path for all future decisions to be based. True alignment within an organization can only happen when every department and employee understands where they fit in helping to achieve the vision and mission and knowing how they are expected to behave.

These statements also provide the basis for creating the culture you want within your company. It helps the leadership team to be consistent with their messaging to employees  thus reinforcing the values and cultural norms expected from management.

It’s takes a lot of thought and digging deep into why the company should exist but it’s well worth the exercise.

To get started creating your vision, mission and value statements answer these four questions:

  1. Why do we exist?
  2. How do we behave?
  3. What do we do?
  4. How will we succeed?
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The Rudderless Organization 

rudderlessWhere did we come from, where are we, where are we going and how do we get there? Working at an organization that hasn’t defined the above can be unbelievably frustrating. How do I know…..I’ve seen it. These types of organizations lack a purpose and employees can sense it. Employees can be confused, they don’t take initiative or have ownership of their functions and typically do the bare minimum to get by.

This is a failure of the CEO/Founder. They haven’t clearly articulated their vision or mission for their company. Maybe they don’t have one, maybe they don’t think it’s important or more likely they’re in the wrong position.

This company I’m thinking of had all sorts of dysfunction (leadership issues, management issues, communication issues, culture issues, quality control issues, delegation/control issues, strategic planning issues – plenty for future posts). They were having serious problems scaling the company. One of the issues was employee lack of understanding of the vision and mission of the company. I spoke to the CEO/Founder about this and he thought enough had been done (a one-time talk at the annual Christmas party) to ensure the employees knew the vision and the mission of his company. Clearly from my perspective this wasn’t the case. Every business unit floundered on a daily basis, accomplishing little to create a truly world-class organization.

What should have happened? Clear, consistent vision/mission messaging from the CEO/Founder. Without this the overall organization lacks character and direction. This core vision/mission links corporate strategy and processes, thereby aligning employee groups and motivating them to work toward a common objective. Everything the company does should be united by a unifying corporate theme. This also ties directly into organizational culture which should support the mission of the company. Every action/process the company does should be self-reinforcing of the overall mission. Too many organizations lack this character. There is nothing special about them, they have no powerful unifying focus that leads to a competitive advantage. They lack uniqueness, direction and spirit.

Create that direction and spirit in your organization. Have a vision and mission statement. Encourage your department heads to create their own vision and mission that supports the overall corporate theme.

Vision: This is the ultimate destination and the reason for the corporations existence. It provides guidance on what our purpose is and what we are working toward.

Mission: Defines the company’s business, it’s objectives and how it is going to achieve its vision. This provides management and staff direction and focus.

Who, What and Why

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Aren’t these the questions new readers to a blog want to know? Maybe you want to know, maybe you don’t, either way here it is. This is who I am and what I’m going to focus my blog on.

I started flying airplanes 20+ years ago, logged over 10,000 hours and haven’t looked back. I first soloed an airplane at the age of 16 and was taught things you should never teach a 16 year old boy to do. I thought it was fun back then but looking back, some of the shenanigans I pulled were outright dangerous. Knowing now how immature I was at 16, if my son or daughter ever wants to fly I’ll be sure not to teach them how to go “poufing”, do barrel rolls, or buzz houses under controlled airspace while doing NOE flying. Thankfully I grew up shortly after that and was hired by an airline at the ripe age of 22, made captain at 25, and retired from the airlines at 34. Yes, twelve years was enough for me.

In those twelve years I saw a lot. I mean a lot, some of the stuff I saw and experienced would blow your mind. Maybe for another post and another day. During that time I also learned a ton about myself and what other interests I had. I started, grew and sold a successful business. I went back to school and earned my MBA with the intent of starting a new career.

What does an airline pilot do after earning starting a business and earning an MBA: go into investment banking. I did a short stint at an IB working with consumer product companies with a focus on healthy/organic/natural products. This is where I got the majority of my finance experience as well as a healthy dose of PowerPoint. I loved it. Looking at a number of businesses and how they were ran, the problems they faced, the successes they had, and what really made a business successful fascinated me. I knew at some point I would again want to strike out on my own and start a business.

Until then I’ll continue to work with my current company helping them to develop their organization. While this organization is quite dysfunctional, I see a glimmer of hope in some recent changes. They have an amazing platform to capitalize on the growing demand in their industry, don’t let the opportunity slip between your fingers.

Where does ultra-running and what the hell is ultra-running you may ask fit into this blog? Well an ultra is any race distance greater than a marathon. They come in a number of distances from the 50K, 50 miler, 120K, and 100 miler. I love to train for and race in these events. Most people ask why? I say because I can. At the heart of it you learn more about yourself and what you can accomplish, there are many life and business lessons to be had from ultra-running. This is also my escape. My time to tap into my yearning to be outdoors, in the wilderness, on a trail exerting myself, thinking or not, just being present in the moment taking in all the beauty around me. It’s my way of exploring, myself and the world.

At the core of who I am is my family. None of this would have been or be possible without the support of my wife. We have two amazing kids, a three year old girl and a five year old boy. This is my life and my only true family. Life is crazy at times. Life is good.

Why blog? For me it’s a way to share my thoughts and experiences with the world. Perhaps someone can relate with an experience, learn something, have a moment where what they read provides them with some insight into a topic they have an interest in or just give perspective.

If you’ve made it this far: congratulations! Hopefully we can connect in some meaningful way. I encourage you to leave comments but please be respectful of everyone.