Vision, Mission & Values - and Purpose
Determining and organisation's vision, mission and values has long been a responsibility of companies - though often done more as a PR exercise than formalising a culture.
Increasingly, the focus has moved to "purpose". Why does the organisation exist. In the nineteenth century when the concept of a corporation was established through a charter as a legal entity, purpose was deemed to be fundamental.
This has been lost with the focus on shareholder value, but as the 2018 UK Corporate Governance Code, Wates Principles and the latest pronouncement from the Business Roundtable (see article in Corporate Governance) show, the focus on purpose has returned.
What are vision, mission and values?
Vision, mission and values statements can form the structure and context for major decision-making and communication with employees, shareholders and other stakeholders.
Vision means the desired future of the organisation; how it wants people to describe the entity when it has achieved its mission.
A vision is a picture of the future created in the imagination, and communicated in a way that motivates others to act.
Possessing a vision means having the ability to create and effectively communicate a picture of the future that builds on a realistic understanding of the present.
A vision helps unite people towards a purpose. Creating and living a vision is the role of leaders in organisations. They have to espouse it and help others to believe it. Most important, a vision should inspire people to want to work for you or do business with you.
A mission is the overall purpose of an organisation: what you do, who you do it for, and how and why you do it. It sets boundaries on the organisation's current activities.
A mission statement is a description of the organisation's key purposes. It is a unifying statement of what an organisation is in business to do. It is a key reference point in the planning and implementation of change.
Values are the beliefs of an organisation, the expression of what it stands for and how it will conduct itself.
Values are the core of an organisation's being, they help to distinguish it from others. They underpin policies, objectives, procedures and strategies because they provide an anchor and a reference point for all things that happen.
There are two categories of value. Generic values of honesty, integrity and trust, etc. are essential in any organisation. However, the existence of these values is unlikely to differentiate it from its competitors.
The values that matter in a vision, mission and values exercise are the ones that define the organisation and communicate its particular character. Three to five values would be plenty.
Values cannot be seen or touched. They only exist when interpreted as behaviours. Any values exercise should, therefore, include worked case studies of how each value would be applied in practice.
Values are closely related to beliefs, which are statements about what is important and “how things are done round here”.
Vision, mission and values statement is a collection of words, created collaboratively, that summarises what an organisation is intended to look like.
Its purpose is to provide focus and serve as a reminder of where the organisation is going. It helps to determine strategy and policy, and how the organisation operates, and helps to keep the focus on the strengths of the company.
What is purpose?
A company's purpose is more than a mission statement or a vision cast from the C-suite. When it comes to communicating an organisation's purpose to its employees, customers and stakeholders, words don't matter nearly as much as actions do.
At its core, a company's purpose is a bold affirmation of its reason for being in business. It conveys what the organisation stands for in historical, ethical, emotional and practical terms. No matter how it is communicated to employees and customers, a company's purpose is the driving force that enables a company to define its true brand and create its desired culture.
However, leaders face an ongoing challenge to make that purpose real, and this starts with their employees.
One of the most powerful ways to bring a company's purpose to life is to allow it to steer crucial decisions.
Strategic decisions are commonly made based on data and projections, but an organisation's purpose provides a consistent guide for those decisions over the long term. In many cases, short-term decisions may conflict with a company's purpose and its long-term strategic goals.
Establishing and positioning a company for long-term success sometimes requires giving up short-term revenue gains that don't align with its purpose.
To focus on purpose find a way to express the organisation’s impact on the lives of customers, clients, students, patients — whomever you’re trying to serve. Make them feel it.