Friday, April 23, 2004

Defining your vision-mission-values

Business Times p.B5
Friday, April 23, 2004

By Moje Ramos-Aquino
Defining your vision-mission-values

I was about to move on to a topic of universal interest-cost cutting-but I want to discuss this concern from a friend first.

I am not editing the letter for my own ego trip (hehehehe). This is also for those entrepreneurs who have joined our Journey on Entrepreneurship but has yet to identify their destination.

The email goes: "Thank you so much for continuously sharing knowledge. You have insightful articles. I need your expert thoughts regarding this.

"Our company has a number of aims and objectives which pretty covered areas like profitability, quality of service, motivation, quality and environment. Some I find repetitive already. Right now, the management doesn't buy the idea of going through a visioning process as they find the aims and objectives already covering what we need to prosper as an organization. But I think we really need to encapsulate these objectives in very clear and not so many statements. We recently rated each item and sad to say we did not get a passing rate. This already made us realize where we are right now in terms of the areas covered by the aims and objectives. All department managers were asked how they think they can contribute in the solution to improve those areas.

"Though we have been moving towards improvements at the moment, aside from the bottomline, I still feel that we need to clarify the exact direction that we need to take from the organizational to departmental level in support of the company's objectives.

"How can I best sell the mission-vision thing to our shareholders? Are our aims and objectives really enough as our blueprint? Would really appreciate your thoughts."

My dear friend, if you are "moving towards improvement," I am sure your company has a vision-mission-values thingy already. Maybe it is not just articulated or specifically labeled as such.

Every entrepreneur is a practical visionary, i.e. high in the clouds but feet on the ground. While your vision itself is a representation of your desired future, remember that you do business in the present. It is like you are driving and you know exactly where you are going and whatever street and highway you take now should lead you there. The more important questions to ask are why did you leave your house or office in the first place? Why is there a need to drive? What is your purpose for driving? How will you drive? That is your vision-mission-values thingy (VMV). Your destination is your strategic goal.

Defining your Vision, Mission and Core Values (VMV) helps you maximize your strengths to take advantage of opportunities or areas for improvement that come your way. You can go slow or fast. You can take the regular roads or shortcuts. You can drive in a Chevrolet Optra or a truck. You may drive alone or with companions. You can drive the vehicle yourself or hire a driver. You can bring as much cargo as can be accommodated. You can proceed through flooded streets or take the skyway. You can change your mind and take a U-turn. These are your strategies. All your answers or decisions will depend on your VMV.

Management guru Ken Blanchard asserts that in their more than 35 years of studying leadership and organizations, they've come to the conclusion that vision and direction are essential for greatness. He wrote that in world-class organizations, everyone has a clear sense of where the enterprise is going and only when the leaders of an organization know that their people understand the agreed-upon vision and direction can they attend to strengthening the organization's ability to deliver on this vision.

Your VMV helps you make smart decisions and choices and be mindful of consequences. A clear VMV makes everybody focus on serving the customer and the company on the long-term. When there is no clear VMV or where the VMV is just a poster in the bulletin board, the company becomes boss-centered and all loyalties are to the bosses and not to the company. Tribes and factions are formed. There is no passion, commitment and excitement. It is like monkey sees, monkey hears, monkey does. No creativity, only myopic vision, no risk taking. Managers plan, organize, do, lead by the nose and control. People follow, leaving behind the customers. Everybody hides under company policy or, worst, medieval traditions and practices.

You should not also stop at simple wordsmithing. All plans and efforts- quality of service, motivation, quality and environment, others-are directed towards living the VMV for long-term viability. Blanchard gives the example of CNN. "Purpose is your organization's reason for existence. It answers the question "Why?" rather than just explaining what you do. It clarifies-from your customer's viewpoint-what business you are really in. CNN is not in the entertainment business. Their customers are busy people who need breaking news on demand. Their business is to provide hard news as it unfolds--not to provide entertainment. According to CNN, the typical family today is too busy to sit in front of the television at 7 p.m. Dad has a second job or in some social event, Mom is working late or is busy housekeeping or shopping, and the kids are involved in activities or glued to their computers. Therefore, CNN's purpose is to provide news on demand."

He also cited Walt Disney as a genius at creating a compelling vision. When Disney started his them parks, he was clear on their purpose, "We're in the happiness business." This clear purpose drives everything the cast members (employees) do with their guests (customers). They are not in an ordinary theme park business.

I have been to the Disney parks in California and Florida many times. I intend to go back more times. Being there is not only a feel-good experience, it is a truly celebratory occasion. Úber! I have lots of wonderful stories to tell my future grandchildren and joyful moments to reminisce later. Thanks to the VMV of Disney Corp. Watching Maksim caress, pound, tickle, romance the piano keys using his whole body with such intensity and focus comes close. His band couldn't help but perform excellently, too.

A well-communicated VMV provides a rallying point, a unifying force that motivates your team across functions at all levels. You motivate your people by giving them hope, spelling out the picture of where their efforts are directed at, showing them the way, training them, developing their potentials, equipping them with the necessary tools, allowing them to make mistakes, and giving them the opportunities to do an honest job. People don't necessarily work for money alone. People have a natural inclination to achieve, to self-actualize and to contribute. To do this, they need a purpose greater than themselves, beyond their capability. They need to know and be convinced of the what, why and how of your business-your VMV thingy-and then, they will take care of your customers.

Your VMV differentiates you from competition. It defines your products, your services, your processes, your competitive edge. It helps you create an aligned and coordinated organization, makes work meaningful and builds teamwork.

The caveat is entrepreneurs don't aim for profitability. Profit is your reward for taking care of your people and delighting your customers. In the same manner that you don't cut costs for purposes of merely protecting your profits. This topic is for next week.

ASTD 2004. Type 360 will be officially introduced at the American Society for Training & Development International Conference and Exposition in Washington, DC, May 20-26, 2004. Type 360 links eight MBTI-identified mental processes to leadership behavior and competencies. For example, a leader may learn that he or she is effective in all eight leadership competencies in providing analytical, cause-effect thinking, but not so effective with communicating the vision or context as related to those eight leadership competencies.

For details on registration and travel, log on to or call Ms. Grace Victoriano at 715-9332. To register, please use Delegation Code 10429860 to avail of big discount.

(Moje, president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corporation, facilitates Strategic Thinking and Planning Workshops and other organization development initiatives. She would appreciate your feedback at moje­

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