Vision, Mission, Goals and Values – building blocks for growth
Many companies put a lot of time and resources into defining their vision, mission, goals and values. The sooner this is done, the easier it is, and the greater the rewards. Unfortunately, too many start this work late when the business has "grown", and there is a need to create more structure. Fortunately, it is never too late. This article is for you who are about to embark on this crucial task.
Start with the vision
The vision defines why you run the company. We are not talking about making a profit. That is a result. Many companies have not articulated or written down their vision, but it is an underlying force that keeps the company going.
A vision is an ideal, a picture of a perfect world or the situation you want to achieve. The vision has nothing to do with the product you deliver, the products come later, and through them, you try to build and promote the vision.
The vision, or the ideal, is something we will never achieve, but we will die trying. It gives our work meaning and creates a purpose for what we do.
A vision does not have to be unique. Many companies, organizations and people can have the same vision. It can be generic across businesses, industries and countries.
An example of a vision could be:
"We envision a world where decisions are made faster and on a better basis."
The mission follows the vision
The mission is a concretization of the vision, which makes it more relevant to your company. The mission is also referred to as the company's social mission. It is tangible and can easily be integrated into how work is performed in the business.
A mission that concretizes the vision in the previous example could be:
"We will give business decision-makers faster access to accurate data to ensure good and efficient decision-making processes."
A company with this type of mission will typically work with software development related to Big Data and AI (Artificial Intelligence). In other words, the mission also describes the company's business idea and how it will deliver value to its customers.
The mission must be used actively to add value to the business. The mission above clearly states which market segment to focus on: Decision-makers in companies. It also defines the type of products and services to be offered to customers. Last but not least, it will be helpful when deciding what not to do.
In our world, most businesses have a myriad of product development opportunities. But you cannot choose everyone, as you do not have the resources to do so. It would also hurt the company since you would quickly lose focus on the company's vision and mission.
The company's goals are all too often defined in relation to the company's budgets. Revenue and profit goals are necessary, but goals related to vision, mission and values should be set at a more general level.
One can set goals such as "to become listed on the stock exchange within five years". This does not say anything about the growth rate but provides clear guidelines for how to run the business. As a consequence of the objective, one must adapt and professionalize operations and reporting to satisfy the stock exchange's requirements.
I am a member of the board at ABAX AS, where we have articulated the following goal: "Happy and engaged employees". This goal states that the employees are the company's most important resource and provides guidelines for how to run the business. When working towards the vision and mission, one must do so in a way that creates satisfied and committed employees.
You can have several goals, possibly both of those I have already mentioned. I think this type of goal should be long-term and provide guidelines for how to act and work in the company in your pursuit of the vision and the mission.
The company's set of values are of crucial importance for building the company culture you want. Your values define who and how you want to be as a company. The company's values must be lived every day by the company's management. All critical decisions must be made in accordance with the company's values to have the desired effect.
By living up to your values, you create trust in your relationship with the outside world over time. The company is perceived as reliable, and the outside world knows what to expect from you.
The building blocks are in place. Let's get to work!
Once you have articulated the company's vision, mission, goals and values, you have defined why and how you do what you do. Now, you must translate this into actual action, the what.
Based on the building blocks, you start by defining strategies, roadmaps, organization, procedures and tasks. When you build them on a clear, well-thought-out, well-formulated and well-established vision, mission, goals and values, it will make sense to everyone in the organization. It is easier to get everyone to move in the same direction towards the shared vision and mission. This can be very powerful for the business and will be a solid contributor to ensure the company's growth in both the short and long term.
Below is an illustration of how all these elements are connected.
Position and reputation
The position and reputation of a company in the market are essential for the company's opportunities to succeed. These are, therefore, topics that are often high on the agenda of companies' boards.
Position and reputation are a result of why, how and what. Therefore, it is vital to know the desired position and reputation when defining vision, mission, goals and values.
Everything is connected to everything!
Petter Quinsgaard is a board member at Interimleder AS, where he worked as a senior advisor from 2019 to 2021. In 2003 he founded Abax and helped grow the company from 4 to 400 employees. Prior to that, he worked for 12 years in the auto industry for Peugeot and BMW. Petter has a Master of Business Administration from BI Norwegian Business School and has extensive experience from various positions in product management, quality systems, sales and marketing.