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Roadmapping Success

(December 2008) posted on Mon Dec 22, 2008

The long road to success is navigated by defining Values, Vision, and Mission.

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By Marty McGhie

Your values will certainly be different and unique to your company, but they should represent the principles from which you will not deviate as a company. In the face of critical business decisions, your stated values should be your guide to doing what you believe is right.

Vision and mission
Next up is your company vision. Your vision provides you the road map of "where you want to go." It could be for the next two to three years, the next five, or even the next 10 years. It may involve profitability goals, sales goals, market share, exit strategies, or anything that will define where you want to be in a specific period of time. Your vision should require you to stretch yourselves in your efforts as owners and managers, but at the same time, it should be achievable. For example, let’s assume your vision includes a goal to double your sales in five years, but you have no plan that will allow you to execute this. Your team will not believe in the vision, and as a result, they won’t work towards achieving it. On the other hand, if your vision creates a challenging opportunity for your employees, they will embrace it and work in concert with the ownership and management teams to accomplish the vision.

The last part of the process is your mission statement. Because the terms mission statement and vision statement are often used interchangeably, this can be confusing. For our purposes, your mission statement will define "how" you accomplish your vision. In our company, we defined elements of our mission statement and then developed a one-line description of what that particular element means to the mission. To illustrate, I will share two of the eight components to our own company's mission statement:

* Empowered team members - Attract and develop talented, driven individuals into an environment that provides clear expectations and fosters personal responsibility.

* Precise execution - Deliver exceptional value through accurate processes, optimized workflow, and consistent quality.

Your mission statement provides a guide whereby your company can accomplish your vision. It should also be congruent to your values. For example, one of our identified values is "Championing excellence in everything we do." That value goes hand in hand with one of our mission components: "Precise Execution," detailed above. Your final mission statement then becomes a call to action for your company and should inspire the employees of your company to consistently work toward accomplishing your vision.

Critical direction
While the end result of developing your company’s values, vision, and mission can be a great way to get your company’s leadership team and employees on the same page, perhaps the most important aspect is the actual experience of going through the effort to arrive at these definitions.

This will be a difficult and challenging process. There will be a lot of discussion, argument, disagreement, common ground, and ultimately consensus. But the time you will spend devoted to the process will be invaluable. Just forcing yourself to sit down and figure out what you want to do as an ownership group and a management team for the next five to 10 years can provide you with critical direction that you may have been missing in the past. Beginning this vision with a core set of values and a specific mission will pave the way for your future growth.