We’ve all seen mission, vision, and values statements on lobby walls, in marketing material, or on websites. They’re usually well-crafted and are meant to convey the best intentions of the owners or the employees (hopefully both) so others understand what the company is all about. But how often do these statements achieve genuine understanding and trust between a business and its customers?
Most businesses go through the motions of creating mission, vision, and values statements. In many cases, those statements are forgotten almost as soon as they’re written. Everyone is glad the assignment is over so they can get on with their real work. And, while they might have believed all the words they crafted, no one sat down to actually think through how those concepts would be lived in the company on a daily basis. Perhaps they don’t get lived in the company. Or, perhaps at some point in the company’s evolution, its mission, vision, or values changed so that its daily activities are no longer in sync with its stated values. Incongruities like these are felt by your employees as well as your customers.
Most of the statements I encounter leave me wondering what the CEO (or committee, or marketing team, or whoever was tasked with writing the statements) was thinking because the words aren’t in keeping with what I see in the lobby, the marketing materials, or online. In other words, the words don’t feel authentic in the context of my actual experience. For example, a statement declaring that Joe’s Accounting is dedicated to the customer falls flat when I’m left waiting in the lobby for ten minutes before even being greeted.
Clarifying your mission, vision, and values isn’t just one of those assignments you have to get through so you can get on with business. Your mission, vision, and values are your business. Using the puzzle metaphor for creating or jumpstarting a business enterprise, think of these three concepts as the edge and corner pieces of the puzzle. Mission and vision are the framework for your business, because, without them, it’s almost impossible to complete the rest of the picture, and what you do put together will be rough and unbalanced. Values are the corner pieces because they keep your enterprise true, in all senses of the word.
Excerpted from my book, “Putting Together the Entrepreneurial Puzzle: The Ten Pieces Every Business Needs to Succeed.” Available here on Amazon.