I’m all too aware as a performance coach how many companies compose short concise statements that claim to be their “vision, mission and values”.
Unfortunately such statements can fall into the trap of being so clichéd that no-one really acknowledges them. They can likewise be so ambiguous that it is impossible to measure if companies are achieving their goals.
Iconic management consultant Peter Drucker once said: “One does not begin with answers; one begins by asking: What are our questions?”
When drilling down your business strategy, although a written business plan is important, it’s also effective to follow Peter’s advice and unearth the key strategic questions to keep your business focused on what matters most.
Author Warren Berger encapsulates the five key questions below:
1. Why are we here?
When your company started, it may have had a clear vision of what they first set out to do. Today, the company may harbour the same ambitions – but the vision may have changed as it evolves and grows. Focus on the present and the future – what does it feel, sound and look like? Is this a picture you can sell to your team at all levels – and will they understand it?
2. What does the world need most from us?
We might think that this is obvious – customers want our products or services. However, our assumptions of what we think our customers – current, potential and future – want, may not be what they actually need. What do they really value, how much are they prepared to pay for it – and how can we uniquely provide it?
3. What are we willing to sacrifice?
When a company’s vision clashes with achieving other goals, something has to give. If it’s impossible to achieve everything, do you take shortcuts, or do you do it right, even if this means the bottom-line might suffer in the short-term? This is where short term sacrifices need to be made to achieve the long-term vision.
4. What matters more than money?
Has your company started caring to much about what the financials say? Yes, a business needs to be profitable to invest in growth and innovation – but how important re the figures in the big picture? What is it that the business really cares about and why? What will we go the extra mile for because we know it’s right?
5. Are we all in this plan together?
Does everyone on your team share the same belief in the vision? Have they stood up and explained why they are here and what role they will play in bringing the vision to fruition? Do you have their heart, soul and mind behind you as you strive to make the vision a reality? Remember the Clipper Round the World Race Crew and the importance of spending time to share their doubts and fears – do your team trust you implicitly to stick to the mission?
Questions on the business mission may be asked by those ‘on the shop floor’, or may come from the CEO, however, it’s important to listen to everyone to ensure the business stays on track to achieve its goals.