Developing a strategic direction and plan for your business should be a creative and inspiring time, beginning with the compilation of a vivid and rich Vision Statement.
 
Compiling a Vision Statement

This process should be used to formulate dreams and a vision that is worth fighting for and believing in, with the clarity of this vision leading you to both decisive action and in turn, decisive results.
 
A critical step in putting together a vision statement is making sure to involve other people in that vision, (a shared vision) in order to allow them to really connect with it. There is no point in having a vision for your business that excites only one person.
 
Who will you engage?

In many instances vision statements are compiled by the management team, but people working at the coalface of the business are not given the opportunity to engage with the vision and ‘catch the excitement’.
 
When this happens, employees often view this process as simply more work or, even worse, spending time on something that isn’t important. When considering the development of a vision statement in the context of the Eisenhower Matrix, it should be seen as a quadrant 2 function, that is, important but not urgent.
 
That is why it is a leadership function rather than a management one!

Developing a Mission Statement

So you have your vision of an amazing business that you would love to have operating with perfection.
 
Now the reality bites….. What do you need to do to get there!
 
There are a number of key questions that need to be answered in when developing a mission statement for your organisation:

  • Why does your organisation exist?
  • What business is it in?
  • Who does it serve?
  • What are your core values – have you articulated the core values of your company that drive the behaviour of your employees?
  • How does behaviour link with the other key questions above?

Developing a Position Statement

A position statement should be a concise statement of your organisations strategic plan and the competitive advantage you have in the market through the eyes of your customer.
 
The outcome of this should be a universal (both customers and employees) understanding of what your business is all about, expressed as a concise statement of what your business does and who it serves.

What is the Importance of this Process?

Often many of the elements in this process are in place, however they are fragmented and in pieces, rather than aligned and unified. Without integration, all the pieces just don’t fit together.
 
This scenario can sometimes arise when the process is delegated to a Manager or CEO, when in fact this is a leadership task for the business owner or the Board to take responsibility for.
 
The Strategic planning process should define who the organisation’s primary customers are, as well as answer the practical questions around how the business is developed and operated, including considerations such as:
 
• Where are our customers?
• Are they a profitable segment to serve?
• What messages do we want to send to our customers?
 
Western culture embraces and applauds being ‘’busy’’ and “in a hurry”, which can lead to the strategic planning process being rushed through, in favour of carefully putting in place the more practical elements. Sometimes this planning is relegated to a one-off session or a retreat. Unfortunately it is never completed or properly implemented into the organisation making the effort a complete waste of time.

Vision – The Four Perspectives Model

How do you start the process of compiling this? Try viewing the question from 4 perspectives.

  1. Internal – describe who you are from an employee’s perspective. i.e. what it feels like to work in the business;
  2. Customer – describe the value the organisation provides from the perspective of your customer;
  3. Market Identity – describe the organisation’s promise to the customer that is also perceived by the market.
  4. Physical Brand – describe the tangible structure of the organisation in respect to size, location/s and structure.

See a further explanation of these below.

Using the Four Perspectives Model to Build a Compelling Vision

1. The Internal Perspective

This perspective incorporates the values of the organisation and how they integrate with the vision. It includes elements such as:

  • Your workplace design
  • What energy exists within the business?
  • How is that energy expressed?
  • Has career satisfaction and/or development opportunities been built into your business model (do you know your employees aspirations and goals?)
  • How do you listen to the voice of others in the organisation to get them on board and make them part of an improvement process?
  • What does the business stand for and what are you trying to build? (from an employee’s point of view)

2. The Customer Perspective

This perspective considers the value that the business is providing to customers from their perspective and it should drive every thought, decision and action the business undertakes.
 
This doesn’t require an elaborate plan, but should instead act as a compass guiding an organisation through its journey. By operating within this frame of reference, business decisions that are required to be made on the fly are much easier to make, so:

  • How does your customer experience you?
  • What do you want those customers to be saying about your business?

3. The Market’s Perspective

This perspective looks at what needs the organisation is seeking to meet in the market and what the market genuinely feels that the business can deliver.
 
From the market’s perspective – what is the unique selling proposition (USP) of the business that differentiates it from other competitors in the industry?
 
Similarly, when someone applies for a job with the organisation why would they want to work for this particular company as opposed to any other?

4. The Physical Brand’s Perspective

This perspective considers the tangible aspects of the brand such as the size of the company, where it’s located, how the head office is organised etc.
 
Some people are not conceptual but instead relate to more the tangible aspects of a plan.

This view considers elements such as:

  • What actually happens in the business?
  • What is the model?
  • How many people are required to run the operation?

Use of the Vision and Mission Statements

Every conversation with an employee or potential employee, existing or new customer should reflect and take into account the company vision. All stakeholders in the business should be able to ‘buy-in’ to the vision and really take it to heart.
 
A good illustration of this in action can be demonstrated through a scenario of going to market for a senior employee hire. The proposition to the candidate should be something like this: ‘’this is what our organisation is all about – does this inspire you”?

Did you get it right?

Once you have drafted the company’s Vision and Mission, you need to review it and ask yourself this question:
 
After reading this Vision and Mission statement, can I come into the office on Monday morning and know exactly what it is I need to be doing?
 
The Vision and Mission need to be so clear to all stakeholders that the resounding answer to this question is; ‘’YES!”
 
Make it so clear that everyone in the organisation feels that it is achievable with the main thrust of the message focussed on what you are promising to deliver to the customer and what your business needs to do in order to keep that promise.

The Mission Statement – What it is that you are going to do as you try to achieve your vision?

Start with the Why:

  • What gets you up in the morning?
  • What drives you to keep working?
  • What is the objective?
  • What keeps you going during difficult times?
  • What’s worth investing 100% of yourself towards in difficult times?
  • What things are so good you will keep doing it no matter what?
  • What do you believe deep down is a primary value to your customer?
  • What do you see happening now in your business that almost breaks your heart and makes you feel you are genuinely leaving a legacy?

 
Hopefully this article has given an insight into the process and makes it clear that your VISION, MISSION and VALUES are all inter-related – and if you integrate the process and involve everyone in the organisation, they will help you to drive your business forwards with clarity, purpose and enthusiasm!

Bruce Havilah

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