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Warning: this may get ugly
Warning: this may get ugly
Try this at your next meeting with your managers. Close the door behind them (because it may get ugly!) and ask them to simply jot down the company's mission statement.
Just ask them, 'What's our company's purpose?'
We do this all the time with clients. And as soon as we mention 'mission statement,' 'vision' or 'company values' everyone's eyes begin to roll and they begin grumbling.
They want to jump right into talking about launching new products and rolling out new sales strategies. We had one client tell us just before we did this exercise, 'If we spend more than 5 minutes on talking about the mission, I'm leaving!'
Several hours later, they were still trying to figure out their mission!!
In another instance, a midwest fitness club client wanted to partner with local urgent care facilities in hopes of generating referrals. But after determining their mission and purpose, they quickly realized that the new venture would steer them away from what they should be doing instead: creating the best fitness club.
For every manager, there's a different mission
In fact, if we put 5 managers around the table, nine times out of ten they'll come up with five different mission statements! Now that would be a good reality show. What's the problem? It's simple. If you don't know your company's mission, you'll end up chasing opportunities that have nothing to do with your business strategy. Or, you end up turning down opportunities that fit perfectly -- but no one recognized it.
The key is to develop what's called an MV2P ' your Mission, Vision, Values and Purpose ' for the company that will guide you and your managers for years to come. I've always used the term MVP for Mission, Values and Purpose, and sometimes swapped out mission for vision, but realized that we need both. My good friend Carl Gould added another "V" into the acronym making it MV2. It's a little clunky but says it all, and I agree with the addition
I'll show you how to apply this formula to your strategic planning process. Plus, I'll give you a tool you can use to develop your own MV2P.
What's your MV2P?
Look, everyone knows they should have a Mission, a Vision and a Purpose, right? But for many small and mid-size businesses the MVP is floating around in the head of the person who started the business. It helped guide them and it may have even changed a few times along the way.
However, it's known only to the owner ' no one else!
For a company to grow, everyone needs to be in agreement about what opportunities it will pursue ' and which ones it won't. For something to live, something else must die. But what will live and what will die? To help you develop your own MV2P, GO HERE.
The toughest challenge ' figuring out what NOT to do
CEO Brian Chesky of the Internet start-up Airbnb, put it best in a recent article in Fortune magazine: "There are so many things we can do; the most challenging part of this is to figure out what not to do."
Without an MV2P, any strategic planning you do is useless. For example, if you were planning a vacation, your strategic plan may include your destination, timeframe, who will be travelling and how you'll get there. But first everyone needs to agree about the purpose of the trip. Is it to relax? Visit relatives? Pursue an adventure on the 'bucket list?'
An ALMOST perfect strategic plan
Here's an example of one man's strategic plan that is missing ONE vital ingredient. See if you can guess what's missing'
'I will come to America, which is the country for me. Once here, I will become the greatest body builder in history. While I am doing this I will learn perfect English and educate myself ' but only with those things I need to know. I will get a college degree so I can get a business degree.
'Simultaneously, I will make whatever money possible from body building and invest it in real estate where I will make the big money. I will go into the movies as an actor, producer and eventually director.
'By the time I am 30 I will have starred in my first movie and I will be a millionaire. I will collect houses, art and automobiles. I will see the world. Along the way, I will learn to impress people and I will hone my mind to outwit all of them. I will marry a glamorous and intelligent wife. By 32, I wall have been invited to the White House''
You got it, right?
Of course, that man is Arnold Schwarzenegger.
But here's the key part. This strategic plan contains some of the ingredients for success. Some, but not all.
What was missing in his plan?
And over time, his strategic plan also became his undoing and resulted in failure because his plan was NEVER based on values!
So let's get started building your MV2P'
Everything begins with a Vision. This is how you see the business 5, 10 or 20 years in the future. It's a statement that describes what you intend the business to look like in the future. It should also be a source of inspiration.
Think about where your company will be 10 years from now. Then, answer these questions as you create a vision for the business:
- What about your business would you like to celebrate 10 years from now?
- What impact will your business have on the world?
- Where will you be doing business?
- Who will your customers be?
- What will you personally be doing 5 years from now?
Next, answer the following the question with complete optimism' If you knew you could not and would not fail, what would your business look like 10 years from now?
Here are a couple more examples to inspire you'
'At IKEA our vision is to create a better everyday life for the many people. Our business idea supports this vision by offering a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them.'
'One day, 30% of all retail transactions in the US will be online. People will buy from the company withthe best service and the best selection. Zappos.com will be that online store.
'Our hope is that our focus on service will allow us to WOW our customers, our employees, our vendors, and our investors. We want Zappos.com to be known as a service company that happens to sell shoes, handbags, and anything and everything.'
Sony's vision in the 1950s'
"To become the company most known for changing the worldwide poor-quality image of Japanese products."
Microsoft's vision in the 1980s'
"A personal computer in every home running Microsoft software."
Once you have a Vision (or at least a few images in mind), it's time to develop a mission or purpose for your business. Your mission is why you exist. Don't confuse vision with mission. Your vision describes a future to which you aspire. Your mission statement describes what the company does, for whom and most importantly, why.
- What's your motivation or passion for building this business?
- What makes your products or services different from the competition?
- What problems do you solve? What pains do you cure? What desires do you fulfill with your products or services?
- Who are your ideal customers?
- Why will customers buy what you offer? What unique benefits will customers get from it?
Stick to the hard facts of what your company does better than anyone else ' and who it really serves. There's no room for fluff or feel-good phrases.
Here are a couple examples for more inspiration'
Nike's mission statement'
'To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world.'
'*If you have a body, you are an athlete.'
Intel's mission statement'
'Delight our customers, employees, and shareholders by relentlessly delivering the platform and technology advancements that become essential to the way we work and live.'
Facebook's mission statement'
'Give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.'
Google's mission statement'
'Organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.'
The last step is to clearly define your company's values. The values govern or define how your company and your people behave. These should be non-negotiable and so important to the integrity of the business that you would be willing to lose money to protect them.
Here are several questions to ask yourself as you think about your values:
- What companies would you like to emulate? Why?
- Which companies would you not like to emulate? Why?
- If your company was a person, what personality traits would you like it to have? (Example, trustworthy, honest, fun, loving, respectful, etc.)
- Which values would you NEVER want to give up ' even if it meant losing money?
Here are a few examples to consider as you think about your own core values'
Zappos has 10 core values:
1. Deliver WOW through service
2. Embrace and drive change
3. Create fun and a little weirdness
4. Be adventurous, creative, and open-minded
5. Pursue growth and learning
6. Build open and honest relationships with communication
7. Build a positive team and family spirit
8. Do more with less
9. Be passionate and determined
10. Be humble
3M's core values '
Innovation: Drive to always improve our products, services and processes on behalf of our customers.
Relationships: Value personal and professional relationships with colleagues and customers through respect, quality and trust.
Integrity: Establish and uphold one's personal and professional core values of ethics, trustworthiness and honesty.
Leadership: Be in front and ignite the passion and inspiration in others to do their best.
Reliability: Unite business excellence with steadfast quality to continue earning our customer's trust and loyalty.
Dialogue: Advocate openness to foster both employee and company growth.
Results: Be a financially responsible organization that provides attractive returns for the corporation.
Stay with me. Because we're near the finish. And we saved the most powerful piece of the MVP formula for last ' your purpose.
Take my good friend, Nick Sarillo, for example. I've talked in past articles about his restaurant, Nick's Pizza and Pub in Chicago, and we held a special seminar Wednesday in which we unveiled the secrets that make companies such as his so compelling.
It often begins and ends with the company's purpose. Nick freely admits that Chicago didn't need another pizza shop when he started the business. Nor did he want to create just another restaurant that makes pizza. Instead, he wanted to create a restaurant that was an active part of the community and where families could meet and have a nice dinner in a relaxed environment.
Nick Sarillo captures the purpose of his business perfectly in his statement'
Our Purpose: The Nick's Experience's ' Our dedicated family provides this community an unforgettable place; to connect with your family and friends, to have fun and to feel at home!
How does Nick fulfill his purpose? Let's take a closer look'
1. 'Dedicated' means employees have a path of ascension so they know where their role in the company and how they create their own career path. As a result, they're committed to 'The Nick's Experience.'
2. 'Family' means the staff at Nick's supports other employees and customers. In one recent example, the staff held a fundraiser and gave up a portion of their tips for another waitress whose child suffered a brain aneurism.
3. 'Community' means the restaurant supports local schools by hosting fundraisers (which is also the restaurant's most successful form of advertising!) ' teachers are given 'certificates of achievement' to award deserving students which entitles them to a free pizza ' employees are given cash awards when they earn straight-A's on their report cards ' and they often hold food drives for the local food bank.
4. 'Have fun' means customers can sit back and relax and enjoy connecting with family and friends. In fact, they encourage customers to throw peanut shells on the floor.
5. 'Feel at home' means more than just a nice sentiment. The restaurant is literally homegrown. The wood used to build the restaurant is taken from local barns constructed in the 1870s. The stones are from Chicago's cobblestone streets. The bar is originally from the 1920s in downtown Chicago.
You've heard me talk before about creating a Big Zig. What's amazing is that a Big Zig is found in the little differences just as Nick created. And those little differences add up to a Big Zig that separates him from every other competitor.
This isn't easy stuff. And it's NEVER quick! Why? Because you're making decisions about what will guide your company for years to come. But before you even start talking about launching new products or creating a new sales strategy ask yourself: What's our mission?
Better yet, ask your managers ' and stand back!
To help you build your own mission, vision and purpose download our MV2P Launcher when you GO HERE.
Always taking you from where you are to where you want to go,
Jon Goldman, President