September 22, 2015

How to create vision and mission statements

How to create vision and mission statements

 

It’s no small wonder the majority of employees scoff at vision and mission statements. Usually what we see is fluff – overly vague generalizations that could apply to almost any company. Additionally, they’re often too long to be recalled by anyone, and therefore, largely useless.

The problem is made worse when vision and mission statements are intermixed, further clouding their practicality.

To clarify the two statements, here are some definitions (and differences), in very simple terms:

Vision Statement: Where you “see” yourself being; where you want to go

Mission Statement:     What you “do” to get there

 

Here’s an example:

Vision:                        Widget Manufacturing will be known worldwide as the highest quality widget producer.

Mission:          Widget Manufacturing strives to:

  • research and integrate the latest, most reliable widget technology,
  • use the most reliable widget manufacturing processes, and
  • provide unparalleled customer service to every widget customer.

Note that the vision is not what they do, but where they want to be. The mission statement outlines what Widget Manufacturing will do. The differences are clear and quite simple.

Does a company need a vision and mission statement to function? Obviously not. The mere fact that so many companies survive without them answers that question. So what’s the benefit of having them?

The answer is focus, flow, and a foundation for decisions. In other words, thriving instead of surviving. When people within a company align their efforts with an agreed-upon focus they save both time and frustration, and they make the company more profitable, too.

A Proven Method for Creating a Vision Statement

  1. Call a meeting. Attendees should be people who have unique perspectives and also have the best interests of the organization in mind. Extra points for inviting people who are also heavily invested emotionally in the success of your organization.

Note: You want forward thinkers at this meeting, not complainers, and not “yes men.”

Also: Identify someone who will serve as a scribe through the entire process.

 

Start by asking (and finding answers for) the following questions:

“Who is the target audience for our vision?”

“Why do we even want a vision statement?”

 

However, to help answer those questions, you should also ask these:

“How will our vision statement be used?”

“Who will see it?”

“What makes us different from everyone else in our field?”

 

Other possible questions that might help:

“Who is our customer?”

“What do they want to receive from us?”

“What is the best we can do for them?”

 

Let the brainstorms roll.  The best results often come by putting people in groups of three or four (but no more) and asking them to come up with as many answers as they can for each question.

Using tear-sheets and clear handwriting, have your scribe record everyone’s input to any and all questions.

This is a brainstorm session, so record everything. You can cross things off later.

Hang up the tear sheets (which also contain the correlating questions) so all can see them.

 

Take it to the next level:

Ensure everyone has writing materials.  Ask everyone to remain quiet for this part of the effort.

Ask them look over all the input on the tear sheets (allow a few minutes for this).

After they’ve reviewed the brainstormed material, invite them to close their eyes if they wish.

Ask them to envision the organization five, ten, or even twenty years from now … more stable, more successful, and well-respected. (Allow a few moments for this).

Tell them “As you continue thinking about our stable, successful, well-respected organization, write down your thoughts about the following:”

  • What makes the company so unique and well-respected?
  • What about the company is inspiring?
  • What is drawing more and more customers to our organization?

Do not rush the above process – it should easily take five minutes, and probably more.

After it looks like everyone has “run their course” and have recorded on paper their thoughts about the above questions, put people in groups of two or three.

Have them share their ideas with each other.  As one person is talking, the other people should be asking clarifying questions, not sharing their own thoughts yet.   Allow as much as needed for this step.

After the groups are done sharing, have them identify ten major factors, words, or phrases that they (as a group) believe are key to describing the organization’s stable, thriving future.

Note: This can be done by giving each group ten 3×5 cards or a stack of Post-It notes so they can record one idea on each note card.  (Remind them to write clearly.)

Starting with one team, ask them to state what’s written on one of their cards.  Collect that card, and ask if any of the other teams have something similar.  Collect all the cards that have a similar theme, and tape those cards to a tear sheet.

Move to the next group and ask them to state another idea.  Collect that card, and repeat the process of collecting cards with similar ideas, again, taping all of them to another tear sheet.

Continue around the room until you have collected all the cards, with similarly themed cards attached to their own tear sheet.  Entertain ideas for a title category for each theme, and write the ideas on the appropriate tear sheets.

Turn the tear sheets over to someone who attended your session whom you believe to be a good writer. This person’s job is will be to synthesize the ideas and come up with a draft vision statement for you.  Do not expect a statement to emerge in one day, and do not try to wordsmith the first draft as a group. Doing so will quickly become awkward and cumbersome (and it’s also a huge waste of time).

NOTE:  Instruct your wordsmith to try to create a vision statement that is 14 words or less. This may prove an impossible feat, but the statement will be more easily memorized (and phenomenally more useful) if it’s short.   If you can’t make it less than 14 words, your next best option is to create a single sentence that has no more than three bullet points. The main rule is “shorter is better” because then it’s easier to memorize.

Once you have a rough draft, or perhaps several versions from which people can choose, let people review the draft(s) and collect feedback.  When you finally settle on the statement that “fits,” be sure to promote it as a something that was created with input from many people.

Cite your Vision Statement frequently and use it as a guide for making strategic decisions.

A Proven Method for Creating a Mission Statement

  1. As you did when creating your Vision Statement, call a meeting. Attendees should be people who have unique perspectives and also have the best interests of the organization in mind. Extra points for inviting people who are also heavily invested emotionally in the success of your organization.

At the meeting, get everyone focused on your Vision Statement—the statement of where you see your organization “being” in the future.  Facilitate a few minutes of dialog, asking people what the vision means to them.

Point out that to achieve that vision, certain behaviors must become norms within the organization.  You might want to use the phrase, “In order to be that, we must behave in certain ways.”

Brainstorm the behaviors and attitudes necessary for the organization to achieve its vision.  This might be done using mind maps or, as when creating the vision statement, in groups of three or four using 3×5 cards.

NOTE: Don’t rush the brainstorming process!  Not only will you acquire unique perspectives, the act of participation engages and infiltrates your teams to want to live out the mission in their day-to-day activities.

Once the brainstorming is deemed saturated (that is, no new ideas are emerging);

Put people into groups of three or four and give each group five 3×5 cards.

Ask them to divide the resulting ideas into no more than five basic categories.

Ask them to come up with titles for their (no more than) five categories, and write one category title on each card (neatly).

Post five different tear sheets on a wall.

Starting with one team, ask them to state what’s written on one of their cards.  Collect that card, and ask if any of the other teams have something similar.  Collect the cards that have a similar theme and tape those cards to one of the tear sheets.

Move to the next group and ask them to state another idea.  Collect that card, and repeat the process of collecting other cards with similar ideas, again, taping all of them to another tear sheet for that theme.

Continue around the room until you have collected all the cards, with similarly themed cards attached to their own tear sheet.

Note: You will likely have more than five categories or themes. Ask the group to consider how themes may be combined into broader, more general themes.  If the team cannot find a way to do that, put “miscellaneous” cards on a separate tear sheet or two, grouped as applicable.

Entertain ideas for a title category for each theme, and write the ideas on the appropriate tear sheets.

Turn the tear sheets over to someone who attended your session whom you believe to be a good writer. This person’s job is will be to synthesize the ideas and come up with a draft mission statement for you.  Do not expect a statement to emerge in one day, and do not try to wordsmith the first draft as a group. Doing so will quickly become awkward and cumbersome (and it’s also a huge waste of time).

NOTE:  A mission statement is usually a bit longer than a vision statement, but it should still be short so it remains memorable. A good goal is to create a single sentence that has no more than three bullet points. Again, the main rule is “shorter is better.”

Once you have a rough draft, or perhaps several versions from which people can choose, let people review the draft(s) and collect feedback.  When you finally settle on the statement that “fits,” be sure to promote it as a something that was created with input from many people.

Cite your Mission Statement frequently and use it as a guide for making tactical decisions.

A mission statement clarifies what your company does. You want people—both internally and externally—to know what you do.

Internally, a mission statement keeps employees focused and it forms a basis for making tactical decisions. Example: If two options for action are on the table, looking at them in light of the mission statement often helps people decide which choice is better for moving a company in the direction of its vision.

Externally, publishing your mission statement tells your clients what they can expect from you. Knowing what they can expect provides them a sense of stability and security, and they’ll be more comfortable doing business with you.

For example, much strife exists in companies due to no shared focus. When a company lacks a vision to which all subscribe, individual visions and missions tend to rise up and compete with each other. The result is conflict, delays, and lost revenues, all because of unnecessary turf wars consuming time and energy.

Creating a clear corporate vision minimizes big pet projects and helps point everyone in the same direction.

Your mission statement should be posted on a company website, on published literature, and throughout a company’s brick and mortar structures so people can see it, be reminded of it, and use it as a guideline for operations.

Everyone from the top on down should be able to recite it from memory, and recite it often. If top management eats, drinks, and breathes the mission statement, everyone else will, too. If top management ignores it, so will everyone else.

Ideally, mission statements should not be more than one sentence long. A couple of bullet points (such as in the example given) are fine, but multiple paragraphs are not practical for keeping people focused, and are therefore ineffective. If you find your mission covers a lot of ground, find a way to boil it down; it can be done if you take the time.

Bottom line, vision and mission statements create clarity and form a basis for making both strategic and tactical decisions – all of which help a company thrive instead of survive.

If thriving profitability is what you seek and your company vision and mission are unclear or non-existent, investing time to clarify these statements will help.

Original URL: http://management-issues.com/2006/5/25/opinion/how-a-clear-vision-and-mission-leads-to-more-profits.asp?section=opinion&id=2837&specifier=&mode=print&is_authenticated=0&reference=

 

This article comes from www.management-issues.com