Organisational Development #2

Organisational Development #2

Vision, Mission & Values

Organisational Development

Outdoors Queensland encourages our Green Circle Members and other businesses operating in the outdoor sector to review the way they manage their businesses, and provides appropriate easy access resources.

We have developed this set of resources because we believe there is a need for small to medium business in the outdoor sector to improve the way they operate, manage staff, market and present themselves to their potential clients.

We have engaged Andrew Murray, from Applied Adventure, to deliver a series of articles on the topic of Organisational Development and to facilitate a Workshop (see below) to explore the issues, the options and the way forward.

Return to the Organisational Development page


Vision, Mission & Values

Vision and Values
When I first saw these terms pop up, and read what organisations were saying about themselves, I thought that this was corporate claptrap.  And these can quickly become just that.

Essentially these should form the “spine” of an organisation, telling the world , and the owners, what the business stands for and forming a sort of compass to assist in navigating the business’ world.

I have found a great book which sets this all in context: “The Northbound Train” by Karl Albrecht (Amacom Books, NY 1994) – yep printed on real paper and still a cracker.

Big thing for a Vision is for it to have power and purpose.  It gives you an aiming point – something to continue towards in the whiteout of craziness that hits us all sooner or later.  The Vision should clearly state what your business aspires to be.

He suggests that a Vision should have three components in order to make it useful:

  1. A focussed concept: Something bigger and better than fluffy generic platitudes – a value creation premise.
  2. A sense of noble purpose: we who work with people in the outdoors generally believe that what we do adds value and helps people be better and more in some way. Our Vision needs to reflect this belief and identify the value and contribution of what we do to a better world.
  3. A plausible chance of success – world domination is unlikely for any Australian small business, however it’s a good idea to aim just that bit higher than the low hanging fruit! If we set the bar to low, it’s ho hum. Too high and we turn ourselves and others off with the magnitude of the challenge.

It should tell “the world” – your customers and your suppliers; what it is you do and what you stand for.

He gives an example of what he considers to be an excellent Vision Statement:

“We always strive to be the friendliest place you’ll ever find to bring your family for great tasting, homestyle cooking, served with care and pride in a pleasant country-home setting at reasonable prices.”

This is “Po Folks” Restaurants – a chain in the U.S. – no doubt at all what they do, what to expect from them as a customer and how to “be” if you work there!

Work back from the what and why of your offering, which must be conceived to meet a real customer need, in order to define your vision!  Start with the idea and polish your words to convey the idea.  The idea is what’s exciting and compelling and we should avoid getting bogged in the wordsmithing until we have decided what the idea/s actually are.

We will never be able to condense our personal values into a concise body of words.  Personal values are a vast and complex web of constructs that are the result of “how we are wired”, our upbringing and our interactions with the world. My personal values are mine – a private world which assists me in determining what is good, right, proper, attractive, beautiful, right and naturally all the opposites too.

In contrast, Organisational Values should be concise, public and simple – a clear statement of what our organisation stands for.  They are likely to bear the imprint of the Personal Values of the people who build them, and should also reflect how we propose to do business.

I’d like to propose that the simpler we can make them the better, but at the same time they must be useful to us as a benchmark for behaviour towards the vision.  Probably a maximum of seven values makes sense – after seven no one will keep looking!

Questions to ask in capturing and stating values:

  • What will it take to achieve our vision?
  • What behaviours do we believe are right and appropriate for people in our business; and what values sit behind these behaviours?
  • Can I hold myself and the people who work in the business to these values?
  • Can I describe the behaviours that these values drive?
  • Am I prepared to present and defend these values and to be held to them by my customers, my suppliers, by colleagues and by the people who work for me?

There is no one way to present your organisational values.

My son’s last school did a pretty good job and their values were presented as “school rules”:

  • Be there
  • Ontime
  • Every day
  • Ready to work

Unpacking these clearly gives everything you need in order to get the things that the school sets out to do done!


So what is the Vision of your organisation?

Does it inspire you and your customers, employees and suppliers?

Does it clearly indicate what it is that you do?

And your Values:

Do they provide a benchmark for behaviour?

Are they a real and honest reflection of how you do business?

Are you prepared to hold others to them and to be held to them yourself?

Most of us find some use for a map and compass, particularly when the going gets tough – and it inevitably will!

Vision and values are the equivalent for the world of business.

Andrew Murray
Applied Adventure
0427 740 642

About the Author: Andrew Murray

My name is Andrew Murray.

I have been active in business in the Outdoor Education, Adventure Based Training and Ropes Course Construction/Inspection/Operation arenas for the past 25 years.

As well, I have been fortunate in that many corporate clients have seen the potential of good facilitation for consultancy/indoor work and offered me opportunities to work in the consulting field.

My experience and activity in working “indoors” and “out”  have lead to some phenomenally interesting and rewarding work both in Australia and overseas.

I have worked for some “biggies”, like Boeing Australia; John Deere; Talisman Energy; BHP Billiton; Anglo Coal, Intergen, Coca Cola as well as literally hundreds of small to medium Australian businesses.

In 1988, I did an Associate Diploma in Outdoor Education at BCAE; this was funded by the proceeds of a small business my wife and I owned and operated in NQ for the preceding two years.  She too undertook studies that year.

A happy accident that year was an internship with Project Adventure USA in Hamilton Mass. I spent a month and a half at their facility “The Iron Rail” living in  a hut in the middle of their ropes course and working with such luminaries as Karl Rohnke and Paul Radcliffe.

I went over mainly to learn how to build climbing walls, but fell into a load of education and learning about both ropes course construction and adventure based counselling.

I came back to Australia and started my own business “Applied Adventure” in around 1991.  Shortly afterwards I went into partnership and half owned and operated “Synergy Applied Adventure” until this year, when I decided it was time for a solo run to the finish line.  Applied Adventure, Hitch Consulting and Rope Monkeys Australia are the mechanisms for that run.

During my time in business, I have been fortunate to have some phenomenal mentors and colleagues from whom I have learned heaps, among these are Bob Dick – Organisational Psychologist extraordinaire; Karl Rohnke – all round unbelievable outdoor guru and a host of others.  I have been fortunate in developing a broad repertoire of skills and knowledge in all things business leadership.  While I recognise the critical importance of good management to business success, it is the area of leadership that fascinates me and continues to be the focus of my corporate work.  Broadly speaking, I believe that the primary function of leadership is the development of sustainable and productive community and culture.

Currently I am working part time for a local government in the Northern Rivers as a “Corporate Trainer” and spending my other time on startup of the new businesses and having adventures.

My “formal” qualifications include a Diploma of Primary Teaching; Graduate Diploma Education (Outdoor Ed); Wilderness First Responder First Aid; Work Safe at Heights Supervisor; Confined Space Work; Intermediate Chainsaw Operations….

I am currently working towards a Sea Kayaking Instructors qualification.

I am married with a 23 y/o son and live in the Numinbah Valley.  My interests include everything outdoors, reading, leatherwork and relearning how to ride a motorbike after 40 years out of the saddle.

I am convinced that in this business relationships are everything.  Your network is gold, suppliers and colleagues are as important as clients – and personal connections which are mutually beneficial are what makes work sustainable and satisfying.

My other strong belief is that it’s easy but ultimately unsatisfying to follow the pack.  Creating a “value monopoly” is a smart thing to do whereby what you offer is something that distinguishes you from the pack for some clients who come to you for something that they want and simply can’t get anywhere else!

Andrew Murray
Applied Adventure
0427 740 642

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