In my last Blog I talked about personal vision and mission and how entrepreneurs can pursue “Success” only to find themselves wealthy, alone and unhappy. The art of really knowing what you want in order to align your business with your personal goals is a critical one for any entrepreneur and started with the deceptively simple question, “What do you want?”
Mission and Vision
Let’s start by asking ourselves two more deceptively simple questions:
- Is it possible to have a great business strategy, plan or brand without a great vision?
- Is it possible to have great brand or outstanding stakeholder engagement without a great mission?
If you believe that the answer to the above questions is, “Yes” then we have a problem. Let me explain my thinking…
What is a vision? For me, this is about asking yourself how you want your company to be described by others in years to come. Creating an effective strategy for your business without a clear vision would be impossible and the brand you create needs to reflect your vision.
What is a mission? This is the reason your team get out of their beds in the morning and want to come to work. It’s about the difference you make in the world and the reason your army goes to war.
Often I ask the question “What is your mission?” and people look at me like I’m from another planet – I can see that they think I’m from the planet “Corporate Bollocks”. “To make money, of course!” comes the predictable response…
Well, let’s take profit as a given. Profit is like oxygen, your company can’t exist without it. Now what’s your company mission? “To make the share holders wealthy”, often comes the next, predictable response….
Well, good luck with that. If I worked for your company and that was my reason to come to work every day, how motivated would I be? When the going got tough, would I fight for your mission? If I got an offer from a rival, would your mission persuade me to stay? How inspired would a potential customer be by your mission?
Body Shop staff and customers united around Dame Anita Roddick’s mission, ‘To dedicate our business to the pursuit of social and environmental change.’ Today they quote Dame Anita’s mantra “The business of business should not just be about money, it should be about responsibility. It should be about public good, not private greed.”
Body shop staff are incredibly loyal and actively choose to work for this business. Do you think this makes recruitment easier? How about staff retention? Do Body Shop customers buy on price? Do you think they identify with the company mission?
Google’s mission is, “To organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” This mission helps us understand their business and to trust it (despite its near monopoly of so many on-line tools such as search). It helps that they publish their values as well, often misquoted as “Don’t do evil”, value number 6 in their list of “Ten things we know to be true” is “You can make money without doing evil”. (I prefer the mis-quote.)
Business leaders need to make their corporate intention clear, simple to understand and ideally highly worthwhile. Creating these things in isolation is dangerous. My firm belief is that Vision, Mission and Values are created collaboratively and thus owned by all. We can dictate as leaders or we can involve and co-create for mutual ownership. Which do you think would work best? It’s your call but either way, there is a real business case for creating or improving yours today.
In a world where many businesses look the same and say the same things, having a clear mission can help your business in many ways, it can :
- Differentiate your company from the crowd
- Create a positive emotional reaction, help build trust or attachment to your business
- Guide your business strategy and planning
- Help you create a brand that its’ target audience loves
- Unite your team and empower individuals within it to make decisions and work more independently
Making our purpose clear, explaining what we want to achieve and even listing the values and principles that guide us on our journey, is hugely important.
My belief is that this is the stuff of business foundation. If you build a business on a soft, incomplete or wobbly foundation it is much harder to make decisions and build something strong, magnetic and permanent.
Like everything else on the marketing journey, Vision, Mission and the accompanying set of values you publish should be re-visited periodically and revised if necessary.
I’m currently working on a new version of Intergage’s Vision, Mission and Values for our integrated business once we have merged with sister company Tasty Marketing. This work started a while back with a whiteboard session with our entire team at a lunchtime learning session. We still have work to do but today at least a work in progress exists. It goes like this…
Intergage exists to help ambitious and ethical businesses achieve their marketing goals where this leads to business growth, employment, creation of wealth and happiness.
To be the most recommended company of our type in every territory in which we operate.
We believe in doing business honestly, fairly and with complete integrity at all times.
We believe that business should be simple; find the right customer, create a great proposition for that customer, but set expectations fairly and then over deliver against these expectations.
To understand the expectations of your own audiences, download your free persona guide now.