Teaching “the Why” Behind the Mission and Vision

Teaching “the Why” Behind the Mission and VisionA few years back, a colleague of mine made me aware of a comment made by a speaker during a convention. According to the source, the speaker suggested that organizations throw out their mission and vision statements and concentrate on teaching their employees products and services. Since I didn’t personally hear or read the speech, I have no idea within what context the suggestion was made. Also since I don’t know the individual who made the comment, I will assume that the intention behind it was valid.

That validity may stem from the fact that most organizations don’t use their mission and vision statements properly. Too many companies spend 15 minutes creating or reviewing these statements. Then print them on a piece of paper and toss the document in a file not to be reopened until the next annual meeting. Some may even go so far as to make a copy for the lunch-room bulletin board, which is soon to be covered up with fliers on the next pot-luck lunch and the asking price for a used sofa.

The mission and vision statements are critical pieces to the brand and the culture of any business. They need to be used as tools to help all employees understand exactly why they have a responsibility to become experts in the products and services, why the products and services offered by their organization are better than those offered by any other business, and why they have a fiduciary duty to make current and prospective clients aware of how their products and services can help them achieve their goals. In the case of a financial institution, the client goal may be to save more for retirement. For a flower shop it may be to help a husband make his wife feel special. For a restaurant it may be to deliver a great experience to every group at every table. Regardless, of the goal, living the mission and vision enables staff to fulfill the proper customer need.

Many organizations fail to embrace this concept because it takes a high level of discipline and commitment. Training, communication, and reinforcement based upon the mission and vision needs to be constant and consistent. Those organizations that believe in this process and apply it have great success. When the true understanding of the mission and vision is accomplished, everyone speaks in a collective voice because they don’t just know the products they understand the why behind them. Getting to that level of internal branding is far from easy in that it takes great diligence, especially by management to lead by example. It’s much easier to print the mission in the company newsletter and hope that by immaculate comprehension everyone gets it.

So if all an organization is going to do with its mission and vision is paste them on its home page, I agree with the original comment. Don’t even bother to waste the time, but don’t be surprised when customers start taking their business to competitors who have embraced their company’s mission and vision and live them every single day.

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