Simplifying mission and vision statements

Today’s focus will be on vision and mission. Specifically, what is a vision and what is a mission, and how should you go about creating vision and mission statements for your business. 

Vision and mission are closely tied together, but they are different. Many people get them confused – including some of the biggest companies in the world, in my opinion. For a long time I was confused by them. But after studying this for a while and working with organizations on their mission and vision, I’ve figured out a simple way to approach vision and mission.

First off – and this may be contrary to what most people think – a business doesn’t necessarily need both a vision statement and a mission statement. Because they are so closely tied together it can cause more problems/confusion than benefit to try have both a vision and a mission statement. 

The common wisdom around vision and mission is that vision is the why of the business and mission is the what. But if you actually look at the vision and mission statements of some of the biggest companies in the world, this really isn’t the case. The what and why of those companies is mixed into both vision and mission statements. We’ll look at some examples in the next article.

I think the best way to start the process of creating a vision and mission for your business is to describe your business using this formula: We do X, so that Y.  

It’s a mixture of what (X) your business does, and why (Y) (see what I did there?) it does it. A hypothetical example might be: We build the world’s safest commercial spaceships (X), so that families can experience interplanetary travel (Y). Providing families the experience of space travel is the why – the purpose – of the business. Building the spaceships is the means (what the business does) to achieve that purpose.

If your business is able to concisely express the X and Y in this manner, you’ll be light years ahead (the puns are just flowing today) of most businesses in terms of articulating your purpose.

I would suggest you make that your mission statement and, if you like, change the start of the sentence to, Our mission is to….(i.e. Our mission is to build the world’s safest commercial spaceships, so that families can experience interplanetary travel).

Then, in crafting your vision statement, ask what does the world (or your community or industry, etc.) look like when you’ve had success delivering on your mission? How is it different than today? If families can experience interplanetary travel, how does that make their lives better? How does it make the world better? 

The vision could be something like, A world filled with happy families with celestial stamps on their passports. Or maybe, Our planet understands our place in the universe.

At the end of the day, what’s it all for? All the time, energy, money, struggle, blood, sweat, and tears that you and your team pour into your business—what’s it all for? When you’ve peeled back all the layers and answered that question, that’s when you’ve found your vision.

This can be difficult to do, much more difficult that filling in the we do X, so that Y formula. One way to think about it is to imagine a snapshot of the world (or your community, or industry) that would provide evidence that your business has achieved its vision. In the example above, the snapshot is of families with celestial stamps on their passports. It’s something you can actually picture in your mind—hence vision—that proves that your business has made the positive impact it set out to make. 

If you can’t find something that works for you in terms of a vision statement for the time being, that’s ok. Having a good mission statement that follows the X/Y formula is an excellent way to articulate the purpose of your business in and of itself. The vision might reveal itself to you later.

In the next article I will review the vision and mission statements for some of the world’s most famous companies, which may help you in the process of creating or revising yours.

4 reasons why you need to clarify the purpose for your business

In a prior article I talked about the Four Ps of any business: Purpose, Planning, People, and Processes. In the next few articles I’ll dive deeper into what’s involved in the Purpose component of the business. Today’s focus is on why a clear and compelling purpose is so important for your business. In other words, what is the purpose of purpose?

Articulating the purpose of your business usually involves some combination of vision, purpose, and values statements. In future articles I’ll discuss the specifics of each of these in turn. But before you spend the time and energy (and oftentimes mental gymnastics) articulating and clarifying your vision, purpose, and values, it’s important to know why it’s so important to do so. What’s in it for you and your business?

In my view there are four main reasons why figuring out the purpose of your business through vision, purpose, and values statements is so important.

1. It forces YOU to figure out what you do and why you do it. 

It sounds kind of silly to suggest that a business owner may not know what the business does and why it does it. But people get into business for all sorts of reasons—sometimes by design, sometimes by default. Sometimes they back into it and before they know it they are so overrun by the daily to dos of running the business that they never really get crystal clear on the what and the why of it all. This brings to mind the famous business parable about drills and holes. People don’t buy drills because they want a drill; they buy drills because they want holes. So if you’re in the business of selling, maybe you need to shift your thinking as to what exactly you are selling to your customers; what it is your customers want from you.

That said, for the most part, people generally have a decent idea of what their business does. But very few have crystal clarity on why they do it. What’s the point of it all? Why does the business exist? What difference does it hope to make in the community, industry, or even the whole world? When you have a clear sense of the purpose of your business, it helps drive you through the inevitable obstacles and challenges what present themselves along your way. The more compelling your purpose, the more resolve you will have to meet and rise above those challenges. 

2. It lets everyone on YOUR TEAM know what you do and why you do it

People want to have a purpose. The people working in your business want to have a purpose. They want to have a sense of a bigger picture. They want to be able to connect their role in the business to the overall purpose of the business. Without it they can feel disconnected, unimportant, unmotivated. A team member who has a clear picture of the big picture will be more driven to help the business achieve its purpose. That is good for the team member and that is good for the business. 

3. It allows YOUR CUSTOMERS to connect with you.

Consumers want to know who they are dealing with, and what they stand for. Your business isn’t going to appeal to everyone, and your stated vision, mission, and values – your purpose – allow people to decide whether they want to engage with what you have to offer.  If your customer identifies with your purpose, believes in it, connects with it, they are likely to want to be part of your business’ journey, and that means buying your goods and services rather than your competitor’s.

4. It gives you and saves you ENERGY.

A clear and compelling purpose for your business should energize you. When you think about your purpose it should compel you to action. It should get your heart to beat just a little bit faster every time you think about it. 

And it also saves you energy on a daily basis, because of a concept called values-based decision-making. Each day you and your team are faced with countless decisions, and making decisions takes energy. Small decisions, big decisions—they all take some energy to make, often times a lot of energy. But when you have a clear purpose, every decision you make can be run through the filter of these three questions:

  1. Will this move us closer to our vision?
  2. Is this consistent with (or does this further our) purpose?
  3. Will this align with our core values?

It is amazing how many decisions can be made swiftly (or not have to be made at all) because the answer to these questions is No. So you don’t have to spend another ounce of energy thinking or, in many cases, agonizing about them. Your purpose gives you the compass to focus on what is important, and let go of all the rest. Or, as Stphen Covey famously put it, it allows you to keep the main thing the main thing. 

If you actively employ values-based decision-making in your business, you’ll be amazed at how much energy you save that you can allocate to really moving your business forward, toward its purpose. So while it may seem like it takes a ton of time and energy to figure out your purpose and to go through the process of creating vision, purpose and values statements, if you do it right the process will both energize you AND save you a ton of energy in the long run.

Start your day off right with a green smoothie

Today I’m going to share one of the best things I’ve done for my health over the last 10 years, which was to incorporate green smoothies into my morning routine. Now I know your first reaction to this might be either “green smoothies, gross”, or “green smoothies, that was so 2013”, or “dude, it’s all about keto these days”, or even something else. But I’m telling you, if you can put a bunch of vegetables in a blender, add in a little frozen fruit, some liquid like almond milk, and maybe some plant-based protein powder and even some probiotics – and actually learn to like it, to look forward to it each day – to become addicted to it, almost…well, that one habit will be HUGE for your health and well-being.

Imagine getting essentially all of your daily recommended servings of vegetables and fruit into your body before lunch. That means you can eat chili dogs for the rest of the day and still have had a good day on the diet front! Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration but the idea is if you green smoothie in the morning, you give yourself such a great foundation of nutrients for the day that it makes up for some poorer food choices you might make later in the day. And if you’re like me these days, your chips and snacks intake has probably gone up with all the Netflix and chilling going on.  

In a moment a couple of special guests are going to show you exactly what you can put in your smoothie, and how to make it. It’s my wife Shelley and my son Gabe who did a green smoothie video as part of a challenge her chiro office was running in the community – seven years ago! Gabe is now a teenager, but in this video he was only 5 or 6 and pretty frickin cute if I might say so. So if you’re interested in the what and how of green smoothies, check out the video (link below). Don’t get too caught up in the exact ingredients or measurements. You can get away with whatever’s in your fridge on any given day as long as there’s a good balance between fruit and veggies (more veggies are better, but some days depending on what’s in the fridge, it might be more of a fruit-based smoothie, and that’s ok). And two other things that have changed in my smoothie routine since this video are that the protein powder I use now is the Vega Protein & Greens that you can get at Costco, and also I now have a Yeti that I pour the smoothie into from the blender, which keeps the smoothie cold literally all day and that is huge because once the smoothie gets warm I find it less appetizing. 

OK, without further ado let’s send it over to Shelley and Gabe.

Here’s a recipe you can try:

  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 cup kale
  • 3 celery sticks
  • ½ medium-sized cucumber
  • ½ avocado
  • 6-8 large frozen strawberries
  • ¼ cup frozen blueberries
  • ½ banana
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • ½ cup pineapple juice
  • Vega Protein & Greens (optional, but recommended if you work out in the morning or if you drink your smoothies as a meal replacement; check label for serving size)

Where are the misalignments in your business?

My wife runs a business. She is a doctor of chiropractic and owns one of the most successful wellness practices in the region. I have learned a lot about business from her. And I have also learned there is a lot that business owners can learn from the principles of chiropractic. I’d like to share some what I have learned with you today in the hope that it can help your business.

A chiropractor’s work focuses on the nervous system. The nervous system is the master controller system of the human body. It connects the brain to all organs, tissues, and muscles in the body, and vice versa. It is the information highway of the body, allowing the brain to talk to the body and the body to talk to the brain. Any interference or disturbance in nervous system function will impact the body’s ability to express health.

The human body is self-healing. In most cases, if you cut yourself, or get sick, or break a bone, in time you heal. You don’t have to think about healing, it just happens. The body is self-healing. 

The human body is also self-regulating. Your heart pumps, you digest your food, your lungs take in air, your other organs do their thing—all without you having to think about it. More, the body adapts to changing circumstances or forces applied to it. Your heart rate increases when you exercise. Your lungs work harder at higher altitude. Again, all without you having to instruct it to do so. The body is self-regulating.

So the nervous system is the master controller of the body. And the body is self-healing and self-regulating. Therefore, any interference or disturbance in nervous system function—that is, in the brain’s ability to talk to the body and vice versa—will impact the body’s ability to self-heal and self-regulate.

Chiropractors detect interferences in the nervous system using manual and technological exams and diagnostic tools. The interferences are typically caused by stressors—such as trauma, or other physical, chemical, or emotional stress that we experience on a day-to-day basis over extended periods of time. The stressors tend to manifest themselves in the spine, either as misalignments or immobility in one or more portions of the spine. And since the spine surrounds and protects the spinal cord, an integral part of the nervous system, these problems with the spine can cause interferences in the nervous system. They can restrict the efficiency of the information highway: the body and brain lose some of their ability to talk or send signals to each other, and the body’s ability to express health is diminished.

The short version of all of this is that misalignments of the spine cause the body not to work properly, not to function optimally. They cause the body to be less healthy, less adaptable to stress, less efficient. When chiropractors are able to correct these misalignments, through chiropractic adjustments, it helps the body return to a higher state of health, adaptability and efficiency. 

See any correlations for your business?

Your business has a ton of moving parts, just like the body. It has people, and processes, and products, and services, and systems, and technology. There’s management, and sales, and operations, and IT, and HR, and marketing, and communications, and legal, and accounting, and leadership, and so on.

Unlike the human body, unfortunately for business there isn’t a built-in master controller system that co-ordinates all of these things without you having to think about it. But like the human body, and again unfortunately for business, interferences in the communication or signals between these functions, and misalignments among them, cause the business to be less healthy, less efficient, less adaptable. They impede the business’ ability to grow and be successful and sustainable. They cost the business money. 

For example, a while ago we had to replace the heating system in our house. The guy who quoted the job did so on the basis that there was no need for any ductwork. He believed the new system would tie into the existing ductwork without issue. When the installers arrived to start the work, however, they knew right away that there would be some fairly significant ductwork involved, and this turned a one-day job into a 2.5-day job for the install crew. Adding 2.5x labour to the quoted job surely cost the business some money, potentially all of the profit on the job. Perhaps they lost money on the job. All because there was a misalignment in the job quoting process. Perhaps the sales guy wasn’t trained well enough on ductwork. Perhaps the compensation system for sales guys was based on revenues and not profit. Perhaps sales guys should consult with installers before giving a quote. Whatever the reason, this misalignment in the quoting process for the company cost them money on the job they did at our house—and who knows how many other jobs. 

Another example of business misalignment occurs often at professional service firms. On the one hand, partners are asked to transition clients to senior staff in order to (a) help with the staff member’s development and progression towards partner, and (b) to make room for the partner to attract more business. However, the partner compensation model at the same firm might be based solely or mostly on book of business, which is a huge disincentive to transition clients to senior staff. The result is stagnant growth, overworked partners, frustrated staff, and inadequate succession planning. All of which cost the business, and thus the partners, money. 

There are literally tons of other examples:

  1. Businesses that don’t act in accordance with their vision or values. 
  2. Businesses with significant sales growth targets, but that don’t allocate sufficient resources (staff, systems, support) to achieve those targets. 
  3. Businesses with great sales teams that bring in business, but sloppy service delivery that results in lost customers. 
  4. Businesses whose messaging to the public (external) conflicts with its messaging to its people (internal)
  5. Businesses with excellent revenue generation but terrible expense control
  6. Businesses with established key metrics but no one or no way to measure them

Fact is, business is hard enough to begin with. If you add in misalignments among–or within—the various components of the business, your chances of sustained success plummet. 

Over the last 20 years, lots of software has developed to become the master controller system, to connect and integrate many aspects of the business, and this has helped greatly. The digital nervous system as Bill Gates called it. But even a great enterprise management or resource software only goes so far. 

In order to maximize efficiency, profitability, and adaptability of the business, owners need to always be on the lookout for misalignments within their business. 

You can start by asking the following questions:

  1. Does my business have a clear vision and mission, known and understood by all team members?
  2. Does my business have a stated set of values upon which all decisions are based (values-based decision-making)?
  3. Does my business have written objectives for the year, broken down into quarters and months, with measurable metrics to measure success?
  4. Are the objectives aligned with the values, mission, and vision of the business? 
  5. Do the systems and processes in my business support the achievement of the objectives?
  6. Do the systems and processes in my business support each other? Where are there inconsistencies?

If there is a nagging problem area (or a few) in your business right now, chances are if you dig into it, you’ll find a misalignment is the root cause. Correct the misalignment(s) and watch the problem(s) dissipate. 

The 4Ps of your business

Business is complicated. So many moving parts. So many variables. So many pressing concerns. So little time.

I find it helpful to use frameworks to break complicated subjects (like business) into smaller components. It makes it a little easier to get your head around things, and helps identify key priorities from busywork. When you’re in the day-to-day trenches of running a business, it can be hard to tell the difference sometimes. 

There are literally TONS of frameworks that business gurus, consultants, researchers, and owners have developed over the years. Here’s what works for me—see if it resonates with you.

I like to look at business in terms of the Four Ps

The first P is Purpose. This is the big picture stuff. Why are you in business? Why does the business exist? What do you and your business hope to accomplish? What are the key principles that drive the business? This is where vision, and mission, and values come into play.

The first goal of any business should be to achieve crystal clarity on the why (vision), what (mission), and how (values) of the business, so that everything that comes after can be directly tied to the pursuit of the vision, furtherance of the mission, and values-based decision-making. All concepts I will discuss in future articles.

The second P is Planning. Once the business’ purpose is clearly articulated, the next step is planning what needs to be done in accordance with that purpose. Above I said that values are the how of a business. They are the big picture how. They are the deal breakers. If an opportunity, decision, investment, collaboration, etc conflicts with the values of the business, then the answer is easy…don’t do it.

If values are the big picture how of the business, then planning is the tactical how. What are the things that need to happen if the business is to move toward its vision. How do you get from point A to point B. This is where business plans live. Ideally your business should have a 3-year plan, as well as an annual plan broken down into quarterly measurable objectives. And the objectives must not only be measurable, but someone must be tasked with ensuring that the measurement takes place. Again, all concepts I will discuss in more detail in other articles.

The next two Ps are intertwined. They are People and Processes. It is people and processes that will determine whether or not the objectives set in the planning stage are achieved.

It is often said that people are the most important part of any business. And that’s true. But your people will only be at their best when the business has the purpose and planning components in place.

People and processes are intertwined because processes determine what people are brought into the business, and it is people who create, administer, and follow the processes of the business. Processes is where all of the components of the business people most often think of, and spend their time, come into play. Product or service development, sales, marketing, HR, operations, communications, technology, customer service, finance, risk management, and so on. These are all core functions of the business and each requires one or more processes for them to function effectively. And they all involve people. Whether or not these processes are well defined, consistently reviewed and refined, and align with all of the other processes—and with purpose and planning—go a long way to determining the sustainability and success of any business. 

Notice how none of the Ps is profit. That’s because profit – while it should obviously be a key goal of any business – is the EFFECT of the other 4 Ps.  Profit is the result of having aligned purpose, planning, people, and processes in your business.