Many companies operate under some sort of ‘Mission and Vision’ framework, often also accompanied, or preceded, by a statement of values. This is fundamental to good governance. It has however become such a ‘default position’ that the model has aged, and, in the process of growing its own grey hair, it has endured a fair dose of abuse, criticism and cynicism.
There are hilarious websites that can create mission and vision statements for you via simple permutations. Those missions and visions often seem undifferentiated and equally applicable to both, your hi-tech business and your neighbourhood hairdresser.
The mature ‘vision and mission system’ has created its own memes: self-contained sentences that have a life of their own. ‘Exceed customer expectations’ ‘maximise shareholder value’ and more recently, ‘positive impact in the communities we operate ’ are examples of them.
There is nothing intrinsically wrong, nor I particularly dislike the old frame. But I have found the need to move on to more contemporary frames. To the cynical eye, it may look like simple semantic tricks. To the clinical eye, you will see that it is definitely more than that, and a different frame altogether.
My hope is that people don’t stop at the possible attraction of the freshness of the language. Conceptually this is not entirely new, but it pushes people away from the default position, whilst pointing to the direction of a perhaps entirely new game. At least this is how I coach and help my clients.
The frame I am now using with my clients reads like this:
(1) Space in the World (Purpose) + (2) Core Beliefs + (3) Non negotiable Behaviours + (4) Organization Logic (Basic People Algorithms) = (5) Company Constitution
I will deal with each piece of the formula separately in a few Daily Thoughts, starting at the bottom and going backwards. Then I will put it all back together.
The last bit (5) is simple, to explain here briefly. Why ‘Constitution’? I think that the model of Citizenship is more appropriate than Employee-ship in the modern company. It has the potential ability to host better things such as activism, responsibility (individual and collective), rights, vision of the common good and overall purpose. ‘Constitution’ has a more powerful frame to express the purpose, the reason for existence and being the home of the rules of the game.
There are two basic reasons why we change the labels of things. One, because we can (for the sake of it, or fashion, or boredom or a colossal branding consulting bill), or because we want to steer meaning into a new direction. I hope the latter prevails here.
More later. Tomorrow I am moving backwards in the formula, and I will introduce ‘The People Algorithms’.