The practice of organisation is a critical function of management; one that is often taken for granted. In basic terms, it is imperative to efficiently and effectively identify and coordinate the what’s, why’s, how’s, where’s, when’s and who’s to achieve success in any venture; whether it is business or other social services. In my practice, I mostly work with Startups and Medium Enterprises (SME’s). One of my most notable observations is that many SME’s operate with a fixed mindset – simply flipping resources today without considering how to maximise current strengths and opportunities to drive sustainable growth for the future.
One of my client’s, John, owns a restaurant. He is an excellent cook and does extremely well with coordinating kitchen staff and services. As a result, he started to get numerous requests to cater meetings and other larger events. However, John opened a juice jar in another town. In addition, John does fitness training in the mornings and evenings, as well as, freelance photography from time to time. John’s philosophy is to do whatever it takes to make him money right now. This worked for some time, but eventually, his multiple income streams saw diminishing returns due to the lack of organisation. John had become stretched too thin. He is currently unable to deliver the best of anything that he offers. He is losing customers at the restaurant and has been unable to maintain momentum with his fitness trainees. We are currently working with John to pinpoint his mission – what is his current business priority, what his vision of success looks like and finally to develop a clear strategy to get there. In so doing, we will be able to help him control the scope and focus of his investment, thereby enabling him to create, manage and maximise more sustainable returns.
Many SMEs operate without a clear mission or vision. This is often due to a lack of training and exposure, but in many cases, the proprietors do not adequately contemplate the power of their enterprise nor the potential to grow far beyond self-employment or the parochial small business. Some think that a mission or vision statement is only for the domain of larger organisations with notable market share and pretty profit margins. At Visio HQ, we actively dismiss the small business mindset, hence, our emphasis on “startups”. Startups are business experiments; the research and development process that precedes innovation, disruption and success in business. As such, startups must not only discover and create their own ingredients for success but also emulate the appropriate properties and practices of successful enterprises. Today we will explore the importance of a mission and a vision; two fundamental features of successful organisations.
There are many academic references about what acceptable mission and vision statements should entail. As a scholar myself, and a trained and experienced professional, I encourage my team, mentees and even clients to gain an understanding and appreciation of the rigour of developing sound mission and vision statements. However, in practice simplicity is your best friend. Your statement should be succinct, relatable and memorable to quickly engage the interest, participation and support of your key stakeholders. Startups are value experiments; the research and development process that precedes innovation, disruption and a successful business.
Your mission is simply your “BIG WHY?”. It answers the questions, “why are you here”, “what do you do?” and “for who?” Your mission is not simply a statement; it is the fundamental purpose of your existence. At the minimum, your mission defines what makes you different from other players in your space. At best, it defines your unique identity, creates your own space and makes you incomparable. Your mission statement must clearly articulate what you do now and who you are serving. In addition, missions should effectively represent a capacity to serve stakeholders’ needs in the most practical way. Here are some examples of great mission statements:
- Visio HQ: “to help Jamaicans build great careers, create excellent learning organisations and develop successful businesses.”
- Grace Kennedy: “to satisfy the unmet needs of Caribbean people wherever we live in the world.”
- Google: “to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
- Microsoft: “to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more.”
Your vision is a glimpse of your successful destiny. It represents your ultimate success; the summit of fulfilling your mission and purpose. Your vision is not just a statement; it is the essence of your ambition to make an indelible mark on the world. It contemplates what’s next and helps you to position yourself to grow and get better. At the minimum, your vision seizes the future. At best, it defines your legacy. Visions should not just be ambitious, but perhaps even audacious to ensure that there is a continuous source of challenge and motivation for your work.
Here are the awesome vision statements for the missions stated above:
- Visio HQ: “to become a centre of excellence for disruption in talent management, startup development and business networking in Jamaica.”
- Grace Kennedy: “to transform ourselves from a Jamaican trading company to a global consumer group with our roots in Jamaica.”
- Google: “to provide access to the world’s information in one click.”
- Microsoft: “to help individuals and businesses realise their full potential.”
Missions and Visions Evolve
The world is a dynamic place. Global trends and the increasing impact of travel, information and communication technology, e-commerce and social media has revolutionised the industrial landscape. As a result, businesses and other organisations must be increasingly sensitive in their response to these changes. In worse case scenarios, these changes present significant threats and may even render missions irrelevant. In best case scenarios, these changes create greater opportunities to compete and even offer enhanced tools for success. Your mission and vision must evolve to contend with the dynamics of the industry. Your mission must maintain relevance to those you serve, and your vision must actively contemplate developments to keep you on target.
You are your mission and you are becoming your vision. Are you willing to risk winging it? Missions and visions are critical features of successful organisations; whether it is a startup or a large enterprise. Your mission identifies you in the industry and your vision epitomises your ultimate success. These critical instruments go a far way in charting your path by creating the context for your work, helping to engage your key stakeholders and providing continuous challenge and motivation.