Organisational Development #2
Vision, Mission & Values
Posted on 29.10.2018
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.
Read more on 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:
- A focussed concept: Something bigger and better than fluffy generic platitudes – a value creation premise.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
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