CEO and Business Coaching
Create A Vision, Complete Your Mission! Why Are You In Business?
In 1957, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard crafted their corporate objectives — their vision and mission for what they wanted Hewlett–Packard to achieve and what they wanted it to become at its core.
HP’s first product, built in a garage, was an audio oscillator that produced a single tone or frequency. Today, HP creates leading–edge computers, laptops, printers and tablets, which are used across many enterprises. These products are a big leap from the bulky oscillator, but they’re not a big leap from the original vision and mission, which continues to guide innovation, culture and growth. This result illustrates the power of a strong vision and a flexible mission.
A vision statement should be written to last. It should answer the question, “Why are we in business?” If and when current leadership leaves, the vision should still resonate. It is not centered on one leader or one set of goals; rather, it defines what the organization strives for at its core and what it can grow into. Apple, for instance, had a visionary leader in Steve Jobs, but the vision that drives the company did not change when he died in 2011. Apple is still committed to creating transformative products using proprietary technology. The vision holds.
The mission statement, however, is a different story. Don’t confuse vision and mission. The mission describes how a business delivers its product or services. It is the key to remaining relevant and current, and a dynamic plan detailing the steps—from raw materials sourcing to product delivery and customer satisfaction—that companies take to stay on track. A company mission should respond to customer needs, market changes, necessary organizational shifts and the world at large, while the vision is a steadfast reminder of core values and identity.
Keep Them Alive
All too often, a business will invest a great deal of time and enormous resources into creating their vision and mission statements, and then shelve them as if they were simply a writing exercise. Both statements are important for a company’s continuity and can play a powerful role in executive decision making. For example, whenever one of my clients encountered a difficult problem, they always pulled out their vision and mission statements for review, and then rhetorically asked, “How did this breakdown occur? What was it that we stopped doing? What are the possible inconsistencies with our vision and mission?” More than collecting dust, these documents helped guide the day-to-day work and inspiration of the organization.
Put Them To The Test
In times of challenge, we can ask, “What happened? What are we doing that is not living up to this vision?” In times of opportunity, we can ask, “Does making this change align with our core values? If we take this opportunity, will we still be who and what we want? Do we need to revamp our mission to ensure that we are living our vision?” Instead of being lifeless, forgotten documents, vision and mission statements are best when they remain at the core of strategic and action plans for your company.