AVFMS Mission and Values

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?

Wasted resources

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.

Mission

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?

Vision

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.

The challenges

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!

 

Every time I started one of my week-long introduction to Leadership courses at ESCS FM (the web-radio from my university that I helped create, that I managed and of which I trained those who would lead the project from then on every year for 4 years, until I left Portugal), I started by asking those who were attending the same couple of questions: “What are you doing here?” and “Why are you here?”. The process was always the same: they would give the same answer to both questions, until I asked them if it seemed like the questions were the same.

That’s when it would get interesting: all of them would agree that the questions did not require exactly the same answers, but none of them would be able to explain why. And that would be a great starting point for me to introduce what I believe is the single most important thing a leader needs.

Action and Motivation

We all can understand what an action is. It’s something that is done. A deed. It’s what’s associated with verbs. It’s not that easy to understand what Motivation is. I mean, we all know what’s associated with it, but once you really think about it, it’s not that easy to explain (I’m a sucker for dissecting things we take for granted every day).

So I like to break the word in half: motiv-ation. The motivation is the motive that provokes the action. And that’s why the two questions above, that seem similar at first, are actually very different: “What” evokes the action, “Why” evokes the reasons behind the action. That’s why it is so deep. And that’s why it was the most important point of the courses. If they didn’t know why they were there, then they didn’t understand their roles as team managers, projects managers and, above all, leaders. I wasn’t expecting them to know in the beginning of the course, but I did everything I could for them to have a good why in the end of it.

Why is “Why” so important?

I have a friend that can answer that question way better than me. Meet Simon Sinek:

The first time I saw this video, it opened my eyes. It sparked in me the understanding of the real role of the leader (which I’ll write about soon). It made me understand why some people can just move teams, companies, crowds. It’s more than charisma, it’s purpose. Real purpose. Real motivation.

But it has to be real. Because it’s biological. It’s our brains. It’s human nature. It’s the root of our happiness and satisfaction. If you don’t understand why you are doing something, then it makes it hard to do it. At the same time, all the sacrifices are worth it if you have the right motivation behind it. But it is, in so many ways, in the root of what we do. Literally what we do.

There is a great tool that can be used perfectly to put these principles in place. It will be my Mission to give it an article soon, and my Vision for you to enjoy reading about it. Hint, hint.

What do you think? Do you have a “Why”? Do you need it? I would love to read your comments below and open the discussion up!