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

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