Does your organization have a vision statement? A list of intentions? A mission statement? A purpose defined? A values charter?
If you don’t have these solid statements, or if you have them but aren’t using them effectively, you’re losing a massive opportunity to help your family business and organization reach its goals. For years we have been helping clients build their Vision, Intentions and Purpose (VIP) aligned to a Family Values Charter (FVC). For us the VIP & FVC is more than a traditional vision or mission statement that gets placed in a beautiful gold frame in the founder’s office, which in time is forgotten by everyone. The VIP must be a dynamic one-page document reviewed every month. It has the power to be the driving force for all family members and make them accountable for their actions.
Consider this: What would happen if you were going on vacation and had no particular destination in mind? You knew without a doubt that you wanted a beach vacation, but wasn’t sure in which direction the coast was, and didn’t have a map or GPS to guide you there. What would be the chances of you ending up on the sandy beaches of Dubai? Minimal, I would say. Now let’s add one more wrinkle to it. Let’s say the vehicle you are using to get yourself to this destination, is less-than-trustworthy. Even if you kind of know the direction in which you are going, it’s doubtful you’ll arrive.
Running a family business without a vision, clearly defined intentions, and values aligned to a purpose is similar to taking a trip without an address, a map, and a sound vehicle. In either situation, it will be almost impossible to reach your destination.
This article and extract from my book “Unleash Your Family Business DNA” will define and differentiate vision, intentions, purpose and values; it will help you determine what yours are and will guide you in writing it all effectively.
Vision, Intentions, Purpose and Values (or Traditional Vision & Mission Statements): What’s the Difference?
One of the biggest barriers to creating effective VIPs is that people don’t have a good understanding of what they are, and how they are different from one another. One question frequently asked by clients is “What exactly is a vision/mission/values statement anyway?” It’s a great question, and one that would receive a number of different answers depending upon who you asked. People seem to have less issue with defining values, and more issue with defining and differentiating between vision and mission. Some confuse the two, while others think they are one and the same. Most confusion surrounding these two words can be traced to semantics. When we work with clients we build out a Vision linked to Intentions, rather than a Vision & Mission Statement. However for this article, we’ve used case studies and benchmarks that refer to traditional vision and mission statements for better understanding.
So to make things simpler, let’s go back to the dictionary definitions of the words.
VISION: The ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom; the mental image of what the future will or could be like.
Your Vision is about WHERE are you going.
INTENTIONS (Mission): An operation designed to carry out a goal.
Your Intentions are WHAT must happen to achieve your vision. Some will have a mission statement, whilst we help clients build a list of intentions.
PURPOSE: A reason for doing something that has meaning or significance.
Your Purpose is WHY are you doing this and what is the underlying reason for wanting to achieve it.
VALUES: A person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life.
Your Values are the inner ground rules that will drive your behavior and the glue that keeps everyone together.
To go back to our vacation analogy, vision is your destination, or goals for your organization, while intentions or your mission is the GPS or map that will guide you there. A vision statement is a short, written statement of the future you want to create and where you are headed. A list of intentions or mission statement, on the other hand, turns that vision into practice. It is the foundation upon which that organization’s decisions and strategies rest upon.
Consider the following traditional examples:
Vision: Fully assume our responsibilities as Europe’s leading retailer and the world’s second-largest retailer and act at local level as a responsible retailer by promoting the company’s sustainable development.
Mission: Promote quality for everybody and ensure the safety of our products. Meet all the expectations of our customers and consumers. Provide customers with freedom to choose with specific ranges of Carrefour products.
Vision: To be the most admired and responsible Integrated Power Company with International Footprint, delivering sustainable value to all our stakeholders.
Mission: To become the most admired and responsible Power company delivering sustainable value by:
- Operating our assets at benchmark levels
- Executing projects safely, with predictable benchmark quality, cost, and time
- Growing the Tata Power business, be it across the value chain or across geographies, and also in allied or new businesses
- Driving Organizational Transformation that will make us have the conviction and capabilities to deliver our strategic intent
- Achieving our sustainability intent of ‘Leadership with Care’ by having leading and best practices on Care for the Environment, Care for the Community, Care for the Customers and Shareholders, and Care for the People
Running a family business without a vision, clearly defined intentions, and values aligned to a purpose is similar to taking a trip without an address, a map, and a sound vehicle.
Developing Your Own Vision, Intentions, Purpose (VIP) and Family or Business Values
Developing vision, intentions/mission, purpose and values statement requires significantly more than coming up with cutesy catchphrases that look good in the company manual, or on a poster in the lunchroom. If you want your statements to truly serve your organization, if you want them to tell you where you are going, what you need to do to get there and how you will do the work to arrive there, you’ll need to give your vision, intentions/mission, purpose and values serious consideration.
What’s Your Vision?
Of all the three statements discussed in this article, the vision statement is by far the most fun to create. Why? Because developing your vision allows you to dream about and imagine what’s possible for your organization. It allows you to envision the future you want to create. While it’s important that all family members and employees are emotionally connected to an organization’s vision, when it comes to developing a vision, the founder (or family board) or the main family member who currently leads the business, should be in the driver’s seat. The vision of an organization should reflect the founder’s goals of the business. The emphasis in your VIP statement should be on the future.
When developing a vision statement, ask yourself five questions:
- Why does our family business and organization exist?
- Who is our ideal client or customer?
- What expectations do our clients and customers have?
- How can our organization improve the lives of our customers and clients, and make the world a better place?
- What does success look like?
Think all five questions through. Write down your answers. Within those five answers should be your VIP. Once you’ve figured out the gist of your vision you can carefully craft and hone your statement so that it’s no more than a couple of sentences, and is simple, inspiring and motivating.
What Are Your Intentions and Mission?
Once you’ve determined what your vision is, the next step is to focus on your list of intentions and mission statement. Your list of intentions and mission statement should turn your vision into practice. It’s what will allow you to move your organization from the present into the future and when an intention is backed with determination and willpower, it must happen. Your list of intentions and mission statement should complement your strategic plan. To that end, it’s important to state that intentions and mission statements can be fluid. When your strategic plan changes, your list of intentions and mission statement must change with it. To that end, it’s important that you have a good handle on your strategic plan before you attempt to develop your complete list of intentions mission statement.
What are Your Purpose and Aligned Values?
Values describe “how” your family business and organization intends to meet its goals. Aligned with a deep Purpose on why you are doing this – is it to build a legacy or make a difference or increase your wealth or create something of significance or to build your family brand? A purpose statement and values charter indicates what your company really cares about, and what is important. Your family business and organization’s values are behind those important decisions, as well as the day-to-day actions of your employees.
To develop a guiding mission statement, ask yourself the following questions:
- Who are our customers?
- What are the products and/or services that we offer?
- What are the specific goals of the family business and organization?
- What are the broad goals of the family business and organization?
- What is the organization’s market position?
- How does the organization differentiate from the competition?
The answers to these questions might take some time to develop. But once you are confident with your answers, you will have all of the information you need to develop a mission statement that speaks to both your employees and your customers.