Vision and Mission statements, mere jargon or essential for business planning?

corporate vision, business strategy, reality visioning, mission statmentChristopher Columbus didn’t jump into his boat and discover the New World prior to arranging the required finance, loading provisions and investigating the best route to get there! So why should you?

Well, business strategy isn’t too much different from global exploration.  It starts with cleaning your glasses (none of us sees well without clear vision!), doing some thinking and building a plan.

A strategic plan which articulates a:

  • Carefully considered GOAL/PURPOSE (something which you’re hopefully passionate about achieving!) and which may take time but which will have a durable quality. This over-arching purpose is sometimes called the “mission” and larger companies often publish complex mission statements in their annual reports;
  • POINT OF FOCUS or the DIRECTION (“vision”) …of you and your team.

One thing our experience tells us is that all successful businesses have a clear purpose, and then the… focus and discipline …to push towards that objective/s even when the going gets tough, as it undoubtedly will.

High growth businesses are usually founded on a simple, often big picture, mission or an internal capability even though they usually supply more than one product or service However the offerings of those companies reflect significant synergies.

Said another way, they specialize in one thing, and then the other parts of the business logically hang off of it.

It is easy to fall into the trap of starting out with a product/service which then gets extended until you suddenly realize you are in a different “market” from the one you thought you were in. Because every industry has a fairly unique set of opportunities, risks, personalities, quirks, regulatory frameworks and associated industry associations / networks etc. It takes lots of time, and effort, to develop the depth of knowledge and reputation that allows one to become a key participant with a significant market share! As a result it is only the largest listed groups – with access to large-scale capital, human and other resources that can straddle multiple industries without diluting their energy, competitive effort, making costly mistakes or missing out on key growth opportunities.

Not every business will be a high growth entity …but EVERY business needs to regularly think about the following:

  • What problem are we solving for your clients?
  • Who are those clients?
  • How many markets do we have clients in?
  • Do people outside our business understand what our business does?
  • What do we need to invest to pursue an opportunity / new client?
  • What is the process of selling our goods or services?
  • Are the risks and profile in terms of buyers and buyer behaviour similar?
  • Does that decision leverage an existing product / service / staff member / resource? OR does the staff member or product need to be trained / reworked?
  • Are there any other synergies …with the things we have been doing?
  • If we offer that additional product/service, are we further focusing our business or are we making it more disparate / diffuse?
  • What do we do that is better than all others in our space?

And most importantly, in conclusion

  • WHAT BUSINESS ARE WE IN and DOES OUR STAFF KNOW WHAT BUSINESS THAT IS?

When the above things are resolved, you will be a position to communicate easily and clearly to staff and clients WHY you are in business, as well as WHAT you are trying to achieve. Also decision-making becomes a lot easier as ‘it’ either is ‘in’ or ‘out’ of the frame and the actions of you and your team are simplified, become more targeted and energized.

You will also be in a position to:

  • Determine the values and principles, which will be upheld and adhered to – which will determine the culture, which just means the rules of behavior, which govern the way your people and your business behave.

WOW! Isn’t that a better place than most of the businesses you come across?

Unfortunately these concepts, which usually get fitted into a nice hierarchy aren’t often properly applied, or they don’t achieve what was hoped for and staff become cynical, disillusioned or even destructive! Worse still, to coin the words of David Maister, ”there are many more firms with mission statements than actually have missions[1]”.

However much we might like to avoid the annual planning weekend and to throw away what is often no more than jargon, it remains vital for management to define their organization, to set the boundaries and to mobilize the “troops” to achieve the objectives as agreed.

As Nikos Mourkougiannis [2] stresses – you have to begin with the “purpose” in mind!

When we think about it, we usually have a pretty good idea as to WHAT we should be doing in both our personal and business lives, and WHY we should be doing it, and even HOW we do it, and HOW REGULARLY we should be doing it – the hard bit is ACTUALLY DOING IT.

Over to YOU – where are you going to start in 2012?

Join us next week when we’ll show you how to conduct a detailed SWOT analysis on your business including providing you with a worksheet to get you started.

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[1] Page 61 Strategy and the Fat Smoker – David Maister: Spangle Press Ó 2008

[2]  Purpose: The Starting point of Great Companies – Nikos Mourkogiannis

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About latticecapital
We are an independent Corporate Advisory business based in Brisbane, Australia. We established our company in 2008 in response to a gap in the Brisbane advisory market for independent corporate advice. Our principals collectively have in excess of 40 years of Corporate Advisory experience.

4 Responses to Vision and Mission statements, mere jargon or essential for business planning?

  1. Excellent content & exactly the kind of info our Security start-up needs at this point in time;
    Keep up this excellent work; We for one definately enjoy reading these articles; Looking forward to the next SWOT info; Regards Graham Russell located in Sydney

  2. Tania Wyngaard says:

    Please advise on dates or times of the swot workshop . Thanks

    • Hi Tania,

      Thanks for your message. I’m not sure what you are referring to when you mention SWOT workshops, we mentioned providing a SWOT worksheet which we included under our SWOT blog unless I am missing something. Please let me know as I hope I haven’t created an expectation.

      Regards,

      Andy

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