So, I was recently looking around for some of the best podcasts that talk about the development of business mission, vision, and core value statements. Not only to look at what these are definitionally but how they can impact and drive business success.
I found several, but I am only going to share some highlights about a couple today. The continuing thread I found in each of these top podcast episodes is this basic principle: establishing a strong corporate structure and strategy works.
Michael Redman talks about fuzzy terms in his podcast episode “How to craft your companies’ vision.” His definition of the fuzzy terms “crafting” and “vision” is that they are keywords that create a preconceived emotional connection.
They may be positive or negative, but when used effectively, clear company vision can generate buy-in from your employees and loyalty from your customers.
The main reason for a vision statement is to tackle the questions of what you do, and why you do it. You’re looking to give an outline about what you want to accomplish for your business in the long-run that is in-line with your core ideology.
Redmond distills the concept of core ideology into a core purpose and core values. The final component is the mission statement, which is your end goal.
The core values, core vision, and mission statements should reflect your company’s identity. It is not essential, however, to burden yourself into developing strictly unique values, vision, or mission.
These are principles that have been around since the dawn of civilized man. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel here; we are merely using the wheel when, where, and how we choose to get where we need to go.
Core Values for Your Company and Your Employees
An excellent place to start is by working on the core values first.
David Henzel approached the creation of his company’s core values by first looking at what behavior he wanted to promote in his organization. Then, he made sure to hire people that fit into the company culture defined by the core values.
On the Tony Robbins Blog, Marissa Levin talks about how a company’s identity needs to link to its DNA. She, like Henzel, stresses that there is an intrinsic need for the creation of a value system and identifying what its relationship is to your employees.
Levin not only does this in her hiring practices as a guiding compass but also encourages job seekers to focus on company values. She discusses how many people are looking only for a job and not an experience.
The difference is that a job seeker is simply someone who will work to complete tasks. In contrast, an experience seeker is someone who’s going to be more deeply rooted in your company.
Vocabulary and Clarity
Vocabulary and clarity of your core values are essential. Creating meaning-rich and clear company core values enables you to evaluate company hiring, training, and firing based on a filter of sorts.
You are putting inside your company structure moral guidelines to lay the foundation for your business ethics. You can have three, four, or as many core values as you need to get your message across clearly.
Redman stresses that while more than five core values may cause distraction, all the values you deem vital to your business can and should be laid bare.
The focal point is on the term core. Core values incorporate a non-permeable and sound foundation on which your company can be built. The importance of the core values cannot be understated, and articulation of those core values is vital.
To promote better clarity, Henzel found it useful to bring a copywriter into his creative sessions. He started out creating a word cloud, which then precipitated into the company’s fundamental core values.
Aside from the leadership team, Henzel also brought model employees into their creative sessions and conducted employee surveys. He found the employee surveys to be beneficial and aided in employee buy-in due to their participation in the forming of the company’s core values.
Core Purpose or Mission Statement? Both!
Next comes your core purpose. The core purpose constitutes 1 to 2 sentences and can be open-ended. This purpose establishes the essence of your company identity.
Although your core purpose can be almost synonymous with your mission statement, it does add more profound and more self-rooted meaning. So long as you incorporate it as a component of your core values statement.
The open-ended nature of the core purpose is illustrated by Redman through the analysis of Disney.
Disney sells “Happiness.” It is their core purpose to make people “Happy.” But something like “happy” is extremely subjective. As confusing as that may sound, it does still possess tangible worth to us by presenting a subjective threshold.
Both Henzel and Redman liken the core purpose to a tagline of sorts. “Just do it.” While “Just do it” is more a marketing strategy, it can also represent a core purpose as a company identity with a threshold to evaluate against.
If you can’t, “Just do it,” then what do you need to be able to? Can you identify your purpose more clearly now? That is how we use the open-ended properties of the core purpose to drive real results.
After core values and core purpose, we can begin to look at the structure of our mission statement.
The mission statement, simply put, is a way of saying, “this is what we do.”
Redman’s philosophy of the actual difference between what a mission statement and a value statement are is a hotly debated topic. However, he does agree that unlike our core values, our mission statement must change and be adjusted over time.
Henzel uses the analogy of writing your mission statement as if you were writing your business’ obituary. Now, this may seem to be a little morbid, but it has its practicality.
You are looking to sum up what you want your company to be remembered as through your mission statement. Something like: “A Global Marketplace for Chrome Bumper Enthusiasts.” Or “To Make and Sell the Best Chocolate in the Region.”
As you can see, his approach is a forward-facing plot point as your company is climbing towards the mountain summit.
With that said, it is again necessary for your mission statement to remain flexible.
While you can see your summit and are oriented towards it like Arthur Guinness, whom we will discuss later, you may need to change your path to reach it. Do not limit yourself to a strictly linear mission statement.
It is easy to get locked in with a vague or too short-sighted direction. Stubbornness will defeat you most times, and like being accountable to your employees with your core value statements, authenticity to change and adapt are key success strategies.
One of the other fundamentals that Redman talks about in his Podcast is the concept of Jim Collins’ “Big Hairy Audacious Goal” and its relationship to a mission statement.
This concept is a 20 to 25-year look out over the horizon. While it is a far-reaching outlook, it does require measurability. By making this measurable, it adds depth and reality and can keep you focused on what outcomes you are working to achieve.
Being as clear and articulate as you can about your values, desired goals, or outcomes requires adaptability as well. And without these, your goals remain ill-defined, and you can find yourself in a position of potentially being stalled often.
Being able to adapt to changing markets is critical for longevity. Redman discusses this concept through an example of Guinness founder, Arthur Guinness.
He shares how, after running a successful business for 40 years, they changed directions entirely to produce a new style of beer that had yet to become accepted widely by the consumer market. What we can learn from this is that we cannot hold so true to something that may end up cannibalizing itself later down the road.
The prime physical representation of this is a golf hole. While starting at the tee box, the goal lies in the cup at the other end of the fairway. If you were to approach the challenge in any defined linear fashion, you would likely end up out-of-bounds, costing yourself penalties by adding extra strokes.
The better approach is to evaluate how to navigate the obstacles in the most efficient and attainable ways. Your flexibility in your mission statement can enable you to remain focused on goal completion through adaptable tactics.
Debriefing after goal completion allows for the opportunity to reevaluate and reformulate your mission statement again, to take on the challenge of the next hole. Although there may not always be a need to restructure your mission statement after every trial, allow yourself the time to evaluate your experience.
Value or Goal? And What’s the Difference?
The critical separation between a goal and a value, however, can be illustrated by running them through the Guinness example.
A “value” is something that does not change over time. For example, “quality.” If we want to incorporate quality as one of our core values, as Guinness did, then we must use that value as a definitive guide for our goals. We will not waver from this value regardless of the passing of time.
An example of a goal could be something like, gain 50 new clients over the next six months. While this is a great goal to have, it does not classify as a value or driving force behind decision-making, simply that it is a point on the horizon where you want to end up.
Now, if one of your values is honesty and you’re gaining these new clients through dishonest means, you are not holding true to your core value structure.
As you can see, the relationship between the two is vital. Neither should function autonomously from the other because your goals should be evaluated against your values and vice versa.
Strong and Effective Team
Another intricate part of Collins’ big hairy audacious goal is that you cannot complete this on your own. I cannot agree with this more.
Strong leadership will never be fully effective without a strong team. So, when constructing something like your mission statement, be cognizant of your own limitations.
Apple did not become Apple based on the work of one man alone. Great leadership requires the ability to delegate, and part of that is to build a strong team of invested and committed people.
Finding and building that team can seem a daunting task, but that’s why we’re talking about putting into place this vision and structure for your company.
The creation of your foundational filter reinforced by top-down modeling leads to strategic procedural development. Let’s say that again, top-down modeling.
You cannot expect your employees to buy-in to your core values, vision, or mission statement if you cannot hold yourself accountable to the company’s own value statements.
Further aspects of the high-quality core value and core purpose creation is cementing an emotional connection to them. By creating an emotional connection to your mission and value statements, you foster additional buy-in from your employees.
This connection establishes a guideline to navigate what kind of people you want to hire to fit into your company’s culture. David Henzel credits this foundation for giving him the ability to optimize delegation and empower his employees to make decisions in the same way he would.
This methodology also encourages the employees to come to higher-level decision-makers with ideas that they feel can benefit the company. It is then the responsibility of the decision-making team to filter these ideas through their core value, core purpose, and mission statements.
The value of the filter you have fostered is indispensable. It can act as a default screening for any action governing the business’ operation.
Discouraging this type of communication from employees can have detrimental side effects such as loss of production, emotionally detached employees, and a breakdown of the company culture.
Emotional Connections to Values Guides Committed Employees
This entire process and practice centers around your ability to incorporate other like-minded individuals into your core value, core vision, and mission statement creation.
As we discussed earlier, it is necessary to get a wide range of opinions and perspectives when creating your company’s mission, core vision, and core values statements. Collecting different ideas will allow you to incorporate a spectrum consensus of the collective ideology of the company.
While this can benefit you in the creation process, more importantly, it will add depth to your leadership abilities. It will allow you to delegate tasks and projects more quickly and more confidently.
Additionally, the people involved in the creation process will, in turn, act in a manner consistent with the values, because they have an emotional investment in them.
Not only can these fundamentals be applied to your business structure they can also be utilized in your personal life.
Aligning yourself with a personalized composition of core values and core purpose can drive you to more successful goal completion in your personal development.