Monday, June 30, 2003

Personal, business values

Business Times p.B5
Monday, June 30, 2003

By Moje Ramos-Aquino
Personal, business values

“If we can build an environment in which people can learn and grow, the grass will not be greener on the other side.” So says Libby Satrain, senior vice president of Human Resources, Yahoo! This environment is the culture and shared values of your organization.

First, let’s talk about your personal values. Your values answer the questions:

• What’s important to you?
• How can you acquire more energy in your life?
• How can you become prosperous in your life?
• How do you keep excellent health?
• What is the general attitude of people who are happy?
• How do you handle problems and conflicts in your life?
• How can you organize my life better?
• Why do you act, react or proact the way you do?
• What is your favorite movie? Why?
• What is your favorite color? Why?
• What is your favorite place? Why?
• What are your other favorites? Why?
• Are you in love? Why?
• Who are you in love with? Why?
• What are the unseen and hidden major truths and principles about how life really works?
• What is the general attitude of accomplished people
• What is the general attitude of people who excel?
• How can you accomplish your dreams, goals and objectives?
• Why are things the way they are?
• Why do things happen the way they do?
• How do you get in touch with and use your spiritual nature?
• What is the pattern of your life?
• What is the purpose of your life?
• Other than the physical, what makes an authentic person?
• What are you growing and evolving toward?
• What drives you?
• Why did you choose that kind of business over other possibles?
• Why do you opt to become an entrepreneur?
• What is unique about you?
• Do you feel satisfied and fulfilled in your life? Why?
• What activities, conver­sations, sights inspire a “passion” within you causing you to act, speak up and get involved?
• If you are going to die tomorrow, what will you leave behind? Why?
• If you are going to die tomorrow, how will people react to your death? Why?
• If you are going to die tomorrow, what will you do today? Why?
• If you are going to die tomorrow, what is playing in your mind right now? Why?
• If you are going to die tomorrow, what is one big regret you have? Why?
• If you are going to die tomorrow, with whom do you like to spend your last moments and why?
• If you are going to die tomorrow, are you prepared to die? Why?

Your answers to these questions will reveal to you your values. Values are defined by Webster’s dictionary as “a principle standard or quality considered inherently worthwhile or desirable.”

The root word of value is valor and valiant, which means strength or strong. Your values are your source of strength. Your values drive your attitude that predisposes you to act the way you do. If you are happy with being an entrepreneur, no matter the difficulties, you will understand why.

If something is significant to you, you value it. If you consider something or someone of high value to you, you develop a strong intention to get it, nurture it, love it, and protect it or something. Alternatively, you might say, “it means a lot to me” or “I mean to do it.”

Things you don’t value, you don’t even think about or perceive. On the other hand, there are some things you take for granted and when you lose them realize that they are valuable to you.

Now it is important that you are very clear about your personal value system. These same values you will be bringing and using in your business–in the way you treat your employees, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders in your business. These same set of values you will be using to make decisions, to deal with conflicts, to cope with crises, to handle success, to be creative and innovative, to conquer fears, to have fun, to live the hectic life of an entrepreneur, and to have a balance between business and fun and in your career, family, spiritual, social and personal life.

Go right ahead and answer the questions above. Cluster your answers into big chunks of values. If you are not clear about your personal values, you cannot be clear about your entrepreneurial values. Your personal values should be congruent with your business values.

Ortega Gasset once said, “Tell me what you pay attention to and I will tell you who you are.” Scott Lutz, CEO (corporate executive officer) of 8th Continent, has this to say, “It is not about winning every battle, it’s about building a great business from the ground up.”

World Peace: Elsa Mapua of the singing group Lollipops says to contribute to world peace is to be childlike: When my kids were young, we were very much involved in the “Toys For Peace” Movement which was a project of the cause-oriented women’s group called FLOW (Forward Looking Women). As a family, we wrote songs about peace and sang them–in Luneta, in cultural affairs of some embassies and schools, and once on a radio station. We even did puppet shows. The puppets were called “Peaceya” and “Kap” (for Kapayapaan). They were very simple–we just wanted to contribute to World Peace–to sow the seeds of peace in the hearts and minds of children.

One of the incidents I’ll never forget is the time we went to a Church in BF Homes–it was our first time in that Church, so I told the kids to make a wish. As a young mother, my wish was good health for my children. I asked my 8-year-old son, what he wished for. He said “I wished for peace in the whole world.” I was humbled, yet touched by his reply. Here I was, espousing peace, but look at what my wish was. And here was this young kid who could have wished for a toy airplane instead. This just proved that it is easier for a kid than for an adult to “internalize.”

Ms. Moje Ramos-Aquino is president of Paradigms and Paradoxes Corp. and helps companies develop shared vision, matched missions and congruent values. She awaits your comments at

Monday, June 23, 2003

Vision, mission, values: core foundations of business operations

Business Times p.B5
Monday, June 23, 2003

By Moje Ramos-Aquino
Vision, mission, values: core foundations of business operations

"Ideals are like stars; you will not succeed in touching them with your hands. But like seafaring man on the desert of waters, you choose them as your guides and following them you will reach your destination." So said Carl Schurz.

Your entrepre­neurial and organizational Vision, Mission and Values (VMV) are your ideals, your business concept. Whether you think about them consciously and vigorously or not at all, they are there in every aspect of your business. They are in your choices of products and services, location, business partners, customers and others. They are in the way you plan, organize, lead and control. They are in all your policies, systems, rules and procedures. They are expressed through the language and tone of communication in your business. They are visible in every piece of furniture, fixture and they way you arrange them. Your management team uses them to get things done and going. They form the basis for every decision and action that you take. When your VMV are unclear or unarticulated, everything in your business is topsy-turvy and anything goes.

Gary Hamel in his book, Leading the Revolution, has this to say: "A business concept generates profits when all its elements are mutually reinforcing. A business concept has to be internally consistent - all its parts must work together for the same end goal. Almost by definition, a company with mediocre performance is a company where elements of its business model work at cross purposes."

Your Vision answers the question: What do you want to be? What do you want to achieve? Your Mission satisfies the question: Why do you exist? What is your business? Your Values determines how you will behave to accomplish your mission along the path of your vision. They are interconnected and their net result is an organization that is dynamic, productive, innovative, profi­table and a fun place to work in. Jim Collins and Jerry Porras call them core ideologies. In their book, Built to Last, they identified the core ideologies in these visionary companies:

* Innovation; "Thou shalt not kill a new product idea".
* Absolute integrity.
* Respect for individual initiative and personal growth
* Tolerance for honest mistakes.
* Product quality and reliability.
* "Our real business is solving problems"

* Give full consideration to the individual employee
* Spend a lot of time making customers happy.
* Go the last mile to do things right; seek superiority in all we undertake.

* Technical contribution to fields in which we participate ("We exist as a corporation to make a contribution.").
* Respect the opportunity for HP people, including the opportunity to share in the success of the enterprise.
* Contribution and res­ponsibility to the communities in which we operate.
* Affordable quality for HP customers.
* Profit and growth as a means to make all of the other values and objectives possible.

Walt Disney
* No cynicism allowed.
* Fanatical attention to con­sistency and detail
* Continuous progress via creativity, dreams, and imagination.
* Fanatical control and preservation of Disney's "magic" image.
* "To bring happiness to millions" and to celebrate, nur­ture, and promulgate "whole­some American values".

General Electric
* Improving the quality of life through technology and innovation.
* Interdependent balance between responsibility to cus­tomers, employees, society, and shareholders (no clear hierarchy)
* Individual responsibility and opportunity.
* Honesty and integrity.

* To experience he sheer joy that comes from the advance­ment, application, and innovation of technology that benefits the general public.
* To elevate the Japanese culture and national status (In the 1950s, "Made in Japan" meant cheap, junky, poor quality. Sony not only wanted to be successful in its own right, but to become the company better known for changing the image of Japanese consumer products as being poor quality.)
* Being a pioneer­ not following others, but doing the impossible
* Respecting and encouraging each individual's ability and creativity.

These companies have been successful for more than 50 years now and are still growing and reaping more successes orga­nizationally and financially. Peters and Waterman found out in the course of their research for and writing of their book, In Search of Excellence, that companies whose articulated goals are financial did not perform nearly as well in terms of dollars and cents as companies with broader sets of values. At the core of an organization's exceptional performance are its VMV.

In this our Journey on Entrepreneurship, we have, in the past four columns, focused on your Vision and Mission. In the next few columns, we shall reflect on Values. Let us call to mind what James Cash Penney once said, "Golden Rule princi­ples are just as necessary for operating a business profitably as are trucks, typewriters, or twine."

World Peace. Hermie Adriano of Goodyear says that a good person is like a lighthouse. Like the lighthouse, he/she doesn't ring bells or fire guns to call attention. He/she simply shines. Shine and infect others with your bright disposition.

Ms. Moje Ramos-Aquino is president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corp, a facilitator of strategic thinking process. She awaits your feedback at

Monday, June 16, 2003

Why do businesses need a mission statement?

The Business Times p.B5
Monday, June 16, 2003

By Moje Ramos-Aquino
Why do businesses need a mission statement?

“Companies fail to create the future not because they fail to predict it, but because they fail to imagine it,” writes Gary Hamel in his book, Leading the Revolution. “Without a widespread capacity to imagine and design radical new business concepts, a company will be unable to escape decaying strategies … When was the last time you hung on to a good option when you had a much better option in view?”

As we continue our discussion on entrepreneurship and imagine the future of our business, we shall also take into the picture the past and the now. Let us remember what Louis Mandylor (Nick Portokalos) told Nia Vardalos (Toula Porto­kalos) in the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, “Don’t let your past dictate who you are, but make it a part of who you will be.

So today, you shall be thinking and imagineering (imaging and engineering according to Gary Hamel) your mission, your business concept. As Prof. Rubeus Hagrid told Harry Potter: “It is not our abilities that make who we are. It is our choices.”

Your mission statement defines the purpose of your business, the very reason why you chose that business. It is all about choices you have made in the past, in the now and what might be in the future. In Filipino, the mission statement answers the question: Anong gusto mong gawin? Your vision statement answers the question: “Anong gusto mong maging?”

Your mission is not something that you will only decide now. In fact, you have long decided on that the moment you contemplated your business endeavor. But the reason we have this exercise is for you to stretch your mission, to imagine its possibilities and to put your thoughts in concrete terms.

You need to be courageous to write a real mission statement. As Peter Druc­ker once said, “There is no ‘perfect’ strategic decision. One always has to balance conflicting objectives, conflicting opinions, and conflicting priorities. The best strategic decision is only an approximation and a risk.”

I saw this in my folder of notes: A mission statement is the description of the basic purpose of the organization. It is a simple, compelling statement of the organization’s must-do activities. It states the organization’s customers, the value premises it offers those customers and any special means it will use to create value for the customers in order to win and keep their business.

Here are some examples of mission statements:

Chamber of Furniture Industries of the Philippines: To lobby for responsive political and social issues and help move the furniture industry towards sustained growth and global competitiveness.

Asian Eye Institute: To deliver to all our patients the highest quality eye care on a par with the best in the world. To advance the science and practice of ophthalmology in the Philippines and Asia. To make high quality eye care available and accessible to the Filipino people.

Take note that these mission statements answered the basic questions:

• What are our products and services?
• Who are our publics (customers, employees, stockholders and others)?
• Why do we exist?

From The Mission Statement Book of Jeffrey Abrahams, here are some more examples:

Coca Cola: We exist to create value for our share owners on a long-term basis. We refresh the world. We do this by developing superior beverage products that create value for our company, our bottling partners and our customers.

Globe Telecom Customer Service Mission: In Globe Telecom, the Customer is our priority. We aim to deliver world-class customer service through people (highly motivated, values-driven, well-trained, empowered and customer-focused professionals), technology and process (continuously design and consistently implement timely and customer-friendly processes). We champion the development of a service culture within the organization. We take pride in being a cohesive team committed to Total Customer Satisfaction.

Abrahams wrote that mission statements have been a part of working life and human history since the beginning of time. He said that perhaps the very first mission statement is recorded in Genesis, with the command “Be fruitful, and multiply.” Marc Anthony proclaims his mission when he begins to eulogies Julius Caesar: “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. I came to bury Caesar, not to praise him.”

Abrahams quotes Gene Roddenberry’s mission statement for Star Trek: Space, the final frontier, “These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: To explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

Whether as individuals or organizations, we all need a mission statement. A company, big or small, because of the diversity of interests and levels of competence of the people in it, needs a mission statement as a source of direction and identity. It gives a company a sense of purpose, what it stands for and where it is headed. As Abrahams said, a mission, simply by its very existence, provides a foundation on which the company can build its future.

Why do you need a mission statement for your business? It is a great team builder. It also helps you in your managing, leading and integrating the different functions, parts, objectives and goals of your organization.

Some issues in stating your mission are:

Length: One sentence? Two sentences? One page? Long enough to state your reason for being in terms easily understood by your target publics.

Number: You can have more than one mission statement. One for the whole company. One for every functional area or parts of your business. One for every geographical location. One for every cubicle.

Tone: Conversational? Formal? Serious? Depends on your target publics. Choice of words must be deliberate, specific and descriptive. The language and tone should be that which would evoke the needed emotional responses from your target audience.

In sum, your vision should be inspiring and your mission should be moving.

World Peace. Think global. Buy local.

(Ms. Moje Ramos-Aquino is president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corp and helps companies develop shared vision and matched missions. She awaits your feedback at

Monday, June 9, 2003

Preparing to write the mission statement

Monday, June 9, 2003
Business Times p.B5

By Moje Ramos-Aquino
Preparing to write the mission statement

“Leadership is going where no one else has gone,” said Bob Galvin, former chairman of Motorola.

In the book, Mission Possible, Ken Blanchard and Terry Wag­horn posed this question: “Which approach is better–improving what is, or creating what isn’t.” Their own answer is an em­phatic “yes” that is, to manage the present effectively while at the same time creating the future.

As an entrepreneur and boss, as you start your business or, if you are already established but are now encountering turbulent times, you need to gather all the human energies in your or­ganization and focus them toward a single, burning purpose. All hands on deck, brain power engaged and heart beating as one.

So you have co-created an inspiring vision for your company or what your organization hopes to be. Good start. But don’t stop there. In the command “ready, aim, fire!” ready is just one of the part. Ready, is strategic thinking. Aim, is strategic and business planning. Fire, is implementing.

Getting ready is creating a vision, defining the mission and identifying the core values of your organization. TAG Heuer’s creative concept aptly puts it: “Success. It’s a mind game.” Today you will define your purpose, your business concept and answer TAG Heuer question: “What are you made of?”

Authors Blanchard and Waghorn defines mission as: “Your business should be defined, not in terms of the product or service you offer, but in terms of what customer need your products or service fulfills. While products come and go, basic needs and customer groups stay around, i.e., the need for communication, the need for transportation, etc. To allow for the constantly shifting nature of markets, your description of the market need you fulfill should be broad, rather than narrow.

“To use a classic example, suppose that around the time that automobile was coming into use you’d asked a manufacturer of horse carriages, ‘What market need do you supply?’ If the answer was, ‘The need for good horse carriages,’ it’s likely that that manufacturer would soon have been out of business. Had the same leader answered, ‘We provide trans­portation for people,’ his or her company might have evolved from making horse carriages to making cars, and prospered.

“By widening the scope of your services to your customer, you’re throwing out a bigger fishnet.”

Here are examples of com­panies who made the switch.

SAS: We transport people and goods. (from: We run an airline.)

Hoover: We help create cleaner and healthier environ­ments. (from: We make vacu­ums.)

Midas: We provide complete auto servicing. (from: We make mufflers.)

Other mission statements I gathered are:

Meralco: To provide our customers the best value in energy, pro­ducts and services.

Rockwell Land: To be the leading Filipino property development company, most admired in Asia.

Rotary Soup Kitchen: We endeavor to become a self-sustaining orga­nization delivering ex­cep­tional programs and services dedicated to empo­wering people, restoring dignity and bringing hope.

PriceSmart: A strategically, volume-driven and entrepre­neurial membership merchandise and services leader delivering quality, value, and low prices to rapidly emerging consumer class in Latin America, The Caribbean and Asia.

GSIS: We are committed to provide adequate benefits and responsive services to all members and dependents, com­prehensive protection to govern­ment insurable interests and maximum contribution to nation building. We undertake all these in an environment where inspired leadership and dedicated emplo­yees promote highest quality of services to our members and clients.

IRRI: To generate and disse­minate rice-related knowledge and technology of short- and long-term environmental, social and economic benefit and to help enhance national rice research systems.

TAG Heuer: To produce models that embody prestige, deliver performance and guarantee technological inno­vation within an award-winning design aesthetic.

Your mission statement differentiates your business from another similar one by deli­neating your driving force and your uniqueness.

Michel Robert writes in his book, Strategy Pure and Simple, “each of these companies goes down a different road and seldom competes with each other even though they all make cars.

Volvo: Safe and durable cars.

Mercedes Benz: best-engineered car

BMW: the ultimate driving machine.

Volkswagen: People’s car.

General Motors: A car for each income strata”

To summarize, a mission statement describes your organization’s and that of the individuals in your organization:

• reason for existence
• nature and scope of work or responsibilities
• areas of accountabilities; and
• uniqueness.

World Peace. Mark Twain says, “always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.”

(Ms. Moje Ramos-Aquino is president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corp and helps companies develop shared vision and matched missions. She awaits your feedback at

Monday, June 2, 2003

Vision exercise, a shared experience

NOTE. This article first came out in The Manila Times - Business Times Section, and also at the website:

“VISION isn’t a template in PowerPoint,” says Roger Mc-Namee, founder of Silver Lake Partners and Integral Capital Partners.

A company’s vision is a shared aspiration of all the people in your organization. It is that idea or image that binds you and your people together and compels you to support and care for one another. It fosters belonging and ownership.

A shared vision creates a common identity for your organization and your employees. It is meant for the people in the organization, the environment, the processes, the management and leadership not just for the products and services.

Authors John Clemmer and Art McNeil wrote in their book, Leadership Skills for Every Manager that “Vision gives meaning where meaning is lacking, and it enhances meaning where meaning already exists. Vision reaches hungrily out to the future and drags it into the present. Vision is proof positive that the spi-ritual side of mankind will not be denied.”

A vision is a shared commitment to one purpose for the long haul. It is said that the Japanese believes that building a great organization is like growing a tree; it takes 25 to 50 years.

A shared vision energizes the whole organization. Peter Senge in his book, The Fifth Discipline said, “Visions are exhilarating. They create the spark, the excitement that lifts an organization out of the mundane.” Senge further writes: “Shared visions emerge from personal visions. This is how they derive their energy and how they foster commitment.”

Bill O’Brien of Hanover Insurance observes, “My vision is not what’s important to you. The only vision that motivates you is your vision. It is not that people care only about their personal self-interest–in fact; people’s personal visions usually include dimensions that concern family, organization, community and even the world.” O’Brien is stressing that caring is personal. It is rooted in an individual’s own set of values, concerns, and aspirations. This is why genuine caring about a shared value is rooted in personal visions. This simple truth is lost on many leaders, who decide that their organization must develop a vision by tomorrow.

Employees who have no personal ambitions will simply work for salary or wages. They will just be marking time, turning in mediocre results and bootlicking to move or stay on. They don’t go beyond their job description. Once they find their comfort zone in the company, you can’t make them budge. You’ll recognize them by their words: We’ve never done it before. We’ve been doing it this way for 40 years. It won’t work here. It’s too radical a change. It is not my job. It’s not our problem. We’d lose money on it. We don’t have the equipment. We don’t have the time. It is impossible. We need to form a committee.

Employees whose personal visions are congruent to that of the organization’s vision are empowered and creative; not stifled and consi-dered just hired hands. Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s famous quotation rings true, “A rockpile ceases to be a rockpile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.”

So how do you make your employees dream, collect these dreams and distill them into one corporate vision? By reflection, listening and conversation. That is why you can’t manage your organization sitting down in your office and focusing on financial reports. You need to walk around.

First, being the owner and founder of your company, clarify your own aspirations, the reason you went into business and your enterprise or industry’s overarching reason for existence. Senge wrote, “Every telecommunication organization, for example, is tied in some way to Alexander Graham Bell’s sense of the purpose for the telephone system: a vehicle for universal communication. Every medical and pharmaceutical organization is tied to the purpose of improving human health.”

Second, you don’t go to your employees and tell them that you’ve come up with your own company vision and you want to share it with them. That is not shared vision; rather it is a “dictated” vision that will be forgotten soon after you thank them for listening to you.

Third, you and your company leaders engage your employees in thinking through their own visions. This could be in formal or informal settings. If you have few employees, you can simply hang out with them during break times and start them talking about their personal aspirations. This is the time consuming part of visioning.

Some topics of conversation would be: What competencies (knowledge, skills, values and attitudes) do you enjoy using? What are you enthusiastic and passionate about in your job? How and where do you want to use your competencies? What are your favorite interests or special competencies? What is your preferred working environment? What kind of people you want to work with? What kind of product or service do you want to help create? Where do you want to work?

Finally, gather a few representative employees to a formal or informal meeting to create a shared vision and write a vision statement.

Senge, in his book, guides us through the creative process of visioning with questions such as: What would you personally like to see your organization become, for its own sake? What kinds of customers could it have or products or services could it produce? What sorts of processes might it conduct? What reputation would it have? What contribution would it make? What values would it embody? What mission would it have? What would its physical environment look like? How would people work together and handle good and bad times? If you had this sort of organization, what would it bring you? How would it allow your personal vision to flourish?

Your job of leading your organization has just begun. Your next step is to spread and reinforce the vision.

World Peace. Will Durant said, “To give life meaning, one must have a purpose larger than oneself.” Contribute to world peace by helping extend life. Join my son, wherever you are, to make it a personal birthday present to donate blood via the Red Cross. He does it every year on May 28. I am proud of you, son.

Ms. Moje Ramos-Aquino is president of Paradigms and Paradoxes Corp and helps companies develop shared vision. She awaits your feedback at moje@mydes­