Regardless of where you sit in the organization there is an opportunity for you to develop and communicate your direction and to demonstrate your strategic agility. By developing your Vision and Mission statements, you will go through the steps a senior leader is responsible for completing for a function or segment of the business.
The vision statement is a vivid description of the future for your organization or function. It defines the direction (i.e., Strategic Intent) for the organization or your function. The mission statement is why you are in business today. It helps define the purpose or reason for existence for your organization or function. Be sure that what you develop supports your company and function’s direction. Going through these steps will help prepare you for your VP+ role and give you a chance to get more exposure in your organization.
Your Vision Statement
In the most concise terms, your vision represents where you want your organization or department to be in a point in the future. A good time period for this step is 3-5 years in the future. To develop your vision statement, utilize this technique:
Imagine you are in a helicopter and flying over your operations in three years. In as much detail as possible, please describe what you see in of these areas. Be as detailed and creative as possible.
- People, Products and Services
- Work Environment and Culture
- Leadership Team
- Skills (hourly, staff, professionals, supervisors, managers, top management)
- Core competencies
- Quality and Safety
- Competitive Advantages
Take this information and form a description of the future. Vision statements are typically one or two concise sentences. The vision statement should meet these criteria when completed (Nanus):
- Realistic. A vision must be based in reality to be meaningful for an organization. It must create a mental image of the future state. It also has to be idealistic so that it is a stretch to achieve it.
- Credible. A vision must be believable to be relevant to your key stakeholders.
- Attractive. People must want to be part of this future that’s envisioned for the organization. It serves to inspire and motivate stakeholders. It can be a stimulus for change showing the future state is better than your stakeholder’s current state.
- Future. A vision is not where you are now; it’s where you want to be in the future. It can help create meaning in your employees’ lives by helping connect what they do to the vision.
So evaluate your vision statement along these criteria and continue to develop it until you are satisfied it meets all of these effectively. Then take the vision statement and seek input from your key stakeholders and continue to refine the work.
Your Mission Statement
The next critical component for developing and demonstrating your strategic agility is the development of your mission statement. Like the vision, the scope of the mission statement is a function of your role in the organization. As a manager or Director your mission should encompass your department. As the CEO your mission is for the entire organization. Unlike the vision statement, we recommend that you involve key people on your team to help develop the mission statement. You’ll need to reserve several hours for a robust discussion since you’ll need to make choices along the way to develop a laser focus on your value proposition.
Follow these steps to complete your mission statement:
- Review the current state within your organization and ensure you fully understand the broader mission of the company and function. Your mission must support the organization’s mission and direction.
- Answer these questions:
- Who are your customers?
- What are your customers’ key needs?
- How do you perform the work?
- What do you value in the organization?
- What are the key gaps that exist in the organization or department that you want to address and incorporate into the mission statement?
- Take the output of Step 2 and form your mission statement. Here are the criteria of good mission statements:
- Mission statements are short and concise. Usually 1-2 short sentences. The means each word is significant.
- Your mission statement should indicate the value of your organization or department and why you exist.
- Your mission statement should be focused and separate you from the competition. A generic mission may be able to be applied to any of your competitors and won’t distinguish you to customers.
- Your mission statement should be energizing to your employees.
- Seek broad input to the mission and don’t surprise your employees. Meet with all levels of employees and get their input about your mission statement. Use the feedback to refine your mission.
- Communicate the mission broadly within your organization. It has to be a constant communications element for your leadership going forward.