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Going Beyond Mission, Vision, and Values to Move Organizations Forward

Posted on Categories Core Values, Organizational Change/Alignment, PurposeTags

We believe that in any effort, where one starts has everything to do with where one ends up.

At Savage, all of our work begins with understanding who a company truly is and what they stand for. Many companies have mission, vision and values statements that guide their organizations, but we believe more is required to move organizations forward. For us, that means crafting a set of Foundational Statements, which include Purpose, Mission, Vision, Values and Behaviors. We believe this approach creates a strong place from which organizations can align story telling, deliver experiences that drive employee and customer loyalty and create sustainable business success.

The Missing Bookends Approach

Leaders invest a lot of time, thought and energy into their mission, vision and values and tend to believe wholeheartedly in what they stand for. But when they start to share the statements with their stakeholders, they can find themselves wondering why no one feels the same connection they do. If you want to support your mission, reach your vision and see your employees live your values, there are two missing bookends that need to be incorporated into your statements. These are “Purpose” and “Behaviors.”

At the core of Foundational Statements, is a purpose statement. Purpose is the reason an organization exists. It’s an expression of what it stands for and believes in. By starting with “why,” you apply your organization to something beyond profits and put others first. Purpose has the power to give others a compelling reason to wish to associate with your business.

At the tail-end of your statements are behaviors. Behaviors are how everyone at an organization must act to demonstrate their commitment to your purpose. They align with, and make clear, how each person can live out the values your organization holds dear.

Your New Mission, Vision and Values

With these missing bookends in place, your mission, vision and values play a different role in your statement mix. They are meant to support, and further explain, your commitment to your purpose, and as such, the way they are used shifts.

With a Foundational Statements approach, mission defines how you differentiate in the way you deliver on your purpose. A purpose is not ownable, and there may be numerous organizations that espouse the same purpose. Think for instance of all the organizations that seek to eradicate cancer. While they may all hold the same purpose at heart, the way they deliver on it is different. This statement ultimately demonstrates how you do your work and set your organization apart.

Vision is what happens in the world when your purpose is made real. When you take your purpose to its furthest conclusion, what happens? This is a vision beyond how much revenue you bring in, how many locations you have, or where you stand amongst competitors. It paints a picture of what kind of impact you seek to make on the world and inspires others to create that world alongside you.

Values are paired up with behaviors and tell you what each person must embody in order to deliver on your purpose. These are characteristics or principles that your organization holds dear. Values give each person an opportunity to reflect on how they are showing up and direct them in how they may need to shift or grow in order to do the daily diligence of working towards purpose. 

How to Use Foundational Statements

When we have Foundational Statements in place, they become the reference point not just for a branding or culture-building process, but for all of the organization’s planning and operations. Ultimately, with these statements in hand, and at the forefront of our thinking, we can use them to do the following.

  • Set expectations — Foundational statements not only make clear what we expect from each employee in terms of behavior, but also make clear what our stakeholders can expect from us. The statements hold us accountable to behave in line with our purpose, and keep everyone in the organization on track to delivering on that purpose.
  • Align actions — In each endeavor we undertake, with these statements in hand we can ask one simple question. “Does the action we are about to take help us make our purpose real in the world?” If not, then it isn’t an action worth undertaking.  With these statements clear, and shared with all employees, we make consistent decisions and take consistent action in pursuit of making purpose real.
  • Ground creativity — These statements create a beautiful launch point for storytelling, experience design, and product or service development. With the statements as a “brief,” we can all think creatively about the organization and its efforts in an aligned way. Innovations are born. The organization evolves. And it all “makes sense,” because of the purpose at the core.

We’ve seen how Foundational Statements with these missing bookends, and this hierarchical approach, anchor and ignite organizational progress. They are energizing through the nobility of purpose and give a roadmap for how to apply that energy through behaviors. These kinds of statements are explicit and don’t leave anything to chance. They provide a platform for differentiation, aligned decision-making and unified storytelling around a common narrative. They galvanize stakeholders and make them better advocates for our businesses. They become a useful tool and guiding force, start to bring more meaning to our work lives, and allow us to unleash our inherent potential upon the world.

Featured Resource:

Learn the eight critical mindshifts that ignite purpose-led organizations in our latest e-book: Mindshifts on the Path to Purpose

Mindshifts on the Path to Purpose Book cover

Avatar photoSavage Brands believes in unleashing the good inherent within all organizations. Business results are driven by connecting with people at the belief level. That’s why we align everything a company says and does with its Purpose through a proven process that links strategy and execution with “why.” We solve the challenges corporate America faces by building tribal loyalty from the inside out, focusing on people first to deliver authentic brand experiences. Savage builds purposeful brands, communications, leaders and cultures.