I’m sure you’ve hear them before. I bet your company has them. But do we really know what we’re talking about when we talk about Mission and Vision?
These days, more often than not, I feel like these are wasted resources. Missions and Visions are thrown away like they are nothing. They are nothing more than words that look good on paper and that impress, but they are not only hard to understand but they are also empty of meaning.
Don’t get me wrong: there are great companies that have amazing Missions and Visions. But there are also companies who did them because it was the “in” thing to do, disregarding the amazing power these resources have.
There is no better way to communicate the purpose of your company than by develop an accurate Mission and Vision. I had the opportunity before to share with you the importance of Why, as presented by Simon Sinek. Well, Mission and Vision are the simplest form of applying the principle of starting with Why. Not only your costumers connect with you better, but your teams will have a sense of purpose, a notion that what takes them out of bed is more than just money. That will make them happy. And everyone knows what they say about a happy team.
Your Mission is your “Why”. Literally. Why does your company exist? And yes, we are putting profit out of the way. Specially in today’s market place, nobody wants to do business with a company that only thinks about money. It would seem greedy, even if it’s not wrong. What is the Mission of the work your company puts in? What does your product bring to the world? How does it makes the community and the society it is involved better?
A fast-food company could have as Mission something along the lines of making great food without sacrificing great time. A sports club Mission could be to provide the infrastructures necessary to help athletes reach new potentials. A medical research company could have the development of new forms of dealing with diseases (with the correct terms applied of course. Science was never my strongest in school). The radio I run at my university, for example, had as it’s mission the training and development of its members skills in broadcast radio. It may seem obvious, but it is obvious. Just think: why did the company start in the first place?
Now this is where the fun begins. The Mission is impersonal: it relates only to the company, no matter who runs it, and it is rare to make sense to change it there’s new management coming. But the Vision has everything to do with the leader. Visions are connected with imagination, and there’s few things more personal than that.
I like to think of Vision as an utopic goal. An objective that would make you think that there’s no more challenges left, but that would be really hard to achieve. A sports club may have as Vision to be champion in every competition they are a part of. A beverages company may want everyone in their target audience to consume at least one of their products every day. (These are real Visions of great Portuguese companies). My Vision in ESCS FM was to get that amateur web-radio to the FM waves.
Missions and Visions have to be clear. Often there is a tendency to make them look pretty. Loads of words and sentences that look and sound good, but are completely void of meaning. If people have to think to understand your Mission and Vision, then they’re not good at all. Missions and Visions are for your team. They are a way to give purpose to what you and your team do. If they are not clear, then the purpose is not clear.
Missions and Visions are also a great tool to give guidance. Going back to my Vision to ESCS FM, for example: it was impossible in a practical sense, but it guided my work as I looked to bring credibility to the project. “Will taking this step bring me closer of farther away from my Vision?” Depending on the answer, I would act accordingly. This is why they can’t be just a marketing coop. They need to avoid hypocrisy by being authentic, clear and, most of all, real.
Have you ever though of your Mission and Vision? Of your company, your team, your life? I would love to hear your experiences about this, the results you got by trying it and the challenges that stand before you. Comment below!