In our last post, we described why you should create a mission and vision for your organization, or your team if you are part of a larger organization. This week let’s talk about how to create your mission and vision so that you have a shared direction for your team. You may find you actually have fun doing it too if you follow the process below!
Who Should be Involved?
Last week, we discussed how powerful a mission and vision can be in gaining alignment and commitment to your organization. The process of developing the mission and vision should involve the entire team that is directly responsible for fulfilling the mission and driving toward the vision. They bring their perspective, knowledge and passion to the endeavor. By involving them in the process and giving them a real say in the outcome, they are much more likely to be committed to getting it done. They can become the evangelists for the mission and vision because they helped to create them. If they are managers, they can then take it to their own department and develop their mission and vision for their team.
The Tyranny of Word-smithing
One of the roadblocks I hear leaders and groups put up is that during this process, the group gets hung up in word-smithing the final product. I completely agree – it is so painful. I have been in some of those sessions – it’s like pulling off a Bandaid. Yikes! But years ago, I found out how to lead a group through the process which I’ll share with you today.
10 Steps to Create Your Mission and Avoid the Word-smithing Sinkhole
Developing your mission and vision does take time, but the following process will help you to maximize that time and come away with a final product your team will be proud of:
- Location, location, location. Get your group out of the immediate office area for 3-4 hours at a minimum. You want full engagement so no cell phones, laptops, etc. once the session starts. Have flipcharts ready to go.
- Do Your Homework. To save time and make sure everyone is prepared, have your team do some homework to bring to your meeting. One recommended piece of homework is to have them talk to your customers and ask questions like:
- What do you like about our organization?
- What would you like to see more of from our organization?
- What is your mission and vision for your organization?
- Give mission examples. Around the room, before the session, post great examples of mission and vision statements from companies that you admire, especially if they are your competitors or in your industry. Here are the links to two organizations that have mission and vision statements that I like and I think do a good job of representing their organizations, the American Red Cross and Southwest Airlines.
- Set the tone. Start the session by discussing the importance of the mission and vision. Solicit their opinions and discuss how the mission and vision will be used in the organization.
- Decide who the mission impacts. As a group, discuss and agree on who has an inherent interest in the mission and vision. These are your stakeholders. At a minimum, the list should include the immediate team, employees in the organization down to the lowest level, your management chain and your peers if you are part of a larger organization. It should also include your customers. Once developed, you should take your mission and vision to everyone on your list for their feedback and information.
- Have a lightening round. Quickly, have the entire group brainstorm and explore the questions below. Get the ideas up on flipcharts.
- Why do we exist?
- What do we do?
- Who are our customers?
- What sets us apart and gives us a competitive advantage?
- How will we succeed?
- What will we accomplish if we are wildly successful?
- Narrow it down. Give everyone 10 sticky pads and have each person go up and put them on words that resonate for them that they would like to see in the mission and/or vision.
- Draft it out. This is where it gets fun! Have the group move into breakout groups of 2-3 and make sure you mix it up with people who don’t usually work together. Give the groups just 10 minutes to develop a draft mission and vision statement using the words most people marked in the step above. Hold them to the 10 minutes!
- Report out. At the end of 10 minutes, every group reports out. Some won’t have finished their statements, but they should at least have a start. After every group presents, have everyone briefly discuss what they like from the different groups.
- Do it again! Break out into new small groups and do the previous steps again. The groups will leverage the best from the last discussion and generate a second round of draft statements. You can even do it a third time or maybe even a fourth time to get to a final version of both the mission and vision.
Hopefully these small breakout sessions with result in a statement that everyone can agree on. Write a clean copy of both the mission and vision, then look at everyone individually and ask the group, “Is this our mission and vision?” The answer should be a resounding “Yes!”
As I mentioned above, you need to end the meeting with an action plan on specific next steps. Who will communicate the results to the stakeholders and what is the timeline? If there are lower level teams in the organization, what is their timeline for completing their own mission and vision that aligns with the one you have created? How will the immediate team keep the mission and vision alive?
I would suggest that a brief review at the beginning of each staff meeting is appropriate, or perhaps at every quarterly review. Again, the goal is to ensure that your work is aligned to your mission and vision.
Congratulations, you now have a mission and vision! More importantly, you have a common understanding of your work, and a team that is committed to fulfilling the mission and vision.
Facilitating your own team’s development of a mission and vision can be challenging since you should also be participating. It can be beneficial to have on outside help in coordinating the above process. Contact us for help with this important activity. We have helped other organizations develop excellent mission and vision statements and we can help you.
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