People often ask how I differentiate between the terms ‘Mission’, ‘Vision’ and ‘Values’, and why these are important in any business. The way I look at it – ‘Mission’ states where you want to be, ‘Vision’ is how you will get there, and ‘Values’ are the guiding principles that you need to follow to ensure that the ‘Mission’ is achieved.
Let’s take the example of a builder who wants to possibly build the highest sky-scraper in town. His mission is ‘To stand at the highest man-made point, his vision may be ‘Need to build the highest sky-scraper in town with high-quality construction, best-in-class amenities and customers who enjoy a world-class living’. For him to be able to meet his goal, his team would need to identify and follow some values, and these values will then become the cornerstone of every action taken in the business. The builder may choose the following values – 1) Commitment, 2) Perfection, 3) Adaptability and 4) One Team. These values then need to be built into every process – only when employees relate to real-life scenarios in their day-to-day working, would they be able to understand the true essence of it.
There are many companies who wish to embark on a journey that involves transformation, and the starting point of every transformation is to detail and agree on what we are trying to achieve. This usually needs to be done among a group of members who would help the CEO/Owner reach the desired outcome. Once a mission has been agreed upon (this is normally the easiest), the vision needs to be formulated. This can be done using the traditional brainstorming method where members can detail key aspects that they feel are required to meet the vision, these are then written on a board, and the ones that resonate the most with the group, extracted for the preparation of vision statement. Lastly, the values can also follow the vision process, writing all possible aspects on a board and then voting to agree on the ones that will have maximum impact.
Once you have reached a consensus on the Mission, Vision and Values, communication is the key. The CEO/Owner needs to ensure that not only are these updated in marketing collaterals, website etc., but are also communicated through a formal employee cascade, so that everyone is calibrated on the meaning and intent. The values need to be linked to examples at work – e.g. if someone has achieved the target, then it would be great to applaud the effort and link the same to ‘Perfection’ – and ensure that everyone understands that this is an example of ‘Perfection’. Similarly, if one employee has supported the other in an emergency, ensure that the communication talks about ‘One Team’ as the key attribute. Linking actions to values will ensure long term understanding and compliance.
However, one word of caution – the senior leaders need to ensure that they hold the values close to their heart, and do not do anything that violates them, else the impact would be irreversible. As an example – cutting corners does not reflect good on the values of Perfection.