Articles tagged "Mission"
Keep in mind, when you use the strategic plan as a daily management tool...
- The Vision is "The Big Goal." It's THE thing you are working to achieve together.
- The Mission explains what you do as an organization.
- The Values are "The House Rules." As long as employees take paychecks from your organization, they - by default - are bound to abide by the values. If they don't like the values, fine. They need to find someplace else to work.
- The Strategic Goals are the big projects that need to occur to drive your organization towards its vision. Goals are divvied up among the various departments to implement.
- All Sales & Marketing, HR, Operational, IT and other plans need to align with and support the Strategic Plan.
When the leadership team, and then the rest of the team, understands how and why to use the strategic plan as a daily management tool, there's less confusion, fewer divergent plans, and greater team. Not bad for just using something you've already created...
Copyright MMXIV - Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC – www.WBSLLC.com +1.717.597.8890
Liz supports clients with strategic and succession planning, as well as leadership training and executive coaching. Learn more about me on LinkedIn!
My company is working with several clients who are at that stage of their business planning process where we're analyzing their marketing strategies. An obvious component of this step is revising or developing marketing materials that convey the "right" message, to the "right" target market, to get the "right" results. Getting it "right" with the marketing materials can propel a company's business strategies forward with greater success. Getting it "wrong" can create confusion, misinformation, and lost opportunities.
Here are a couple of quick and dirty pointers to help you get it "right":
Be very clear in identifying the target recipients of your various marketing materials (i.e., business cards, brochures, marketing packets, websites, etc.).
Identifying clearly, how your recipients like to receive information, what information they want to have, and how they want to see it presented, will drive your overall design. If your materials are not presented in a way that's easy and logical for them, they may well disregard your materials (and your company) from further consideration because your company didn't appear to be the "right" fit for them.
Express solutions to their problems.
Everyone has problems. Every organization has problems. What we all need are solutions and help. Studies have shown that the close rate on sales increase when you make emotional connections with your prospects. An obvious way to connect with your potential customers is to let them know you can help. You'll really connect if you can show them how you'll help make their problems go away. Share examples of your work. Provide proof you've helped alleviate problems for others. Show them your company will focus on helping them get the "right" solutions.
Design your materials to be "Them" focused and not "You" focused.
Your prospective customers review your materials to identify what you can do for them. So instead of creating pieces that tout your high-quality standards, professionalism, and expertise, identify ways your customers benefit by working with you. Express not only the solutions you can provide, but also identify specific cost-savings, efficiency improvements, reduced labor hours, or increased sales they will experience by working with you. Providing high-quality products and services is a given, so don't waste space and time stating that. Let them know your focus will be "right" where it needs to be – on them.
Don't run the risk of confusing a prospect or losing a potential sale. Ensure your marketing materials convey the right message.
Get it "Right."
I recently experienced the same thing I tell my clients, and honestly, it was a bit deflating. Yet, it was the right feeling. It meant success. It meant the board's efforts in developing its strategic plan, debating objectives, defining strategies, and nit-picking select words had been worth the effort. The new board member with whom I reviewed the plan, simply said, "Thanks for that overview. It makes sense to me. It seems pretty straightforward, but it covers a lot of ground, which it needs to. How can I help?" That was it. He didn't applaud. He didn't say, "Wow Liz. This is amazing! It's the most concise, focused, yet results-oriented strategic plan I've ever seen!" He wasn't awed or tantalized by the plan. He didn't appear ready to start an organization-wide campaign to "get everyone on board" by creating new banners and giving out buttons. He simply wanted to start moving it forward. And because of that, the plan is already working.
Effective strategic planning (or for that matter any project planning) is only effective when it creates a clear roadmap for the team responsible for making it happen. When it creates excitement, shock and awe, then confusion, chaos, conflicts, and frustration are soon to follow. And this is why many of my clients have painful memories of prior strategic planning initiatives. They were well intentioned. They felt good and right during the process. But they yielded a document of little value, that caused more headaches than value because no one remembers what they meant as the various pieces of the plan were created. Their plans sound nice, but require subsequent meetings to discuss what was meant instead of actually working the plan.
Because of this all-too-common focus on creating lofty plans intended to inspire instead of clarify, I tell my clients: If we've developed your strategic plan well, the rest of the team will understand it and accept it when it's shared with them. However, be prepared: they won't be amazed or barely able to contain their applause, because it won't be awe-inspiring: it'll be clear but challenging. In fact, some of them may say, "It took you how many meetings to come up with just these few sheets of paper?" And, that's the type of reaction we want. We don't want them to be amazed, in shock, awed, or paralyzed by fear. We want them to hear it or read it, and "get it." Because if they "get it," they have a pretty clear picture of what we're asking them to help work towards. When they "get it," they aren't paralyzed by confusion. They can help make it happen.
And that's the purpose of a well-developed plan. Even though the planning teams wouldn't mind just a bit of applause....
Copyright MMXII Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC.
I recently had lunch with a consulting colleague. He'd just left a client meeting and was rubbing his temples in an attempt to ease a headache. When I asked if there was something specific bothering him, he replied, "Why are people so afraid to take responsibility and do their jobs?" Apparently during the meeting it had become obvious the project would need additional work as my colleague had pointed out gaps in the team's initial planning. However, as my colleague asked each of the four team members how they intended to fill the gaps, he was met with the universal reply, "That's not my job."
The vision and mission are two separate and distinct components of your most important leadership tool: the strategic plan. And unlike many others who work in strategic planning, I'm a stickler when it comes to clients understanding the purpose of a vision statement and a mission statement. When someone says, “I don’t care what you call it: mission or vision—they mean the same thing.” My response is, “No they don't. They serve two very different roles in the plan, for the leadership team, and for all the employees."
Let’s talk about visions first:
A vision that works creates a clear picture in every person’s mind when they hear it.
During a client’s initial planning session, I asked the senior team what success looked like to them. I asked what they'd like to accomplish to become a successful restaurant once again. After they debated and struggled with several ideas, the owner leaned back, sighed, and said, “I just want the parking lot full of cars five nights a week!” That was it! That simple statement, that simple desire clarified an image, and a picture of success for her and every person in that room. Here’s the vision they created:
By November 1, 201X, Cedrick’s parking lot will be full five nights a week with the vehicles of customers who are enjoying a memorable dining experience. (Client name has been changed.)
When you hear that, what picture do you see in your mind? What do you anticipate the chef, wait staff, busboys, and bartenders see? Because of the simplicity of this vision, any employee could look out into the parking lot and determine if it was full and if they were moving towards their vision. If there were empty parking spaces, each employee would know he or she had better ramp-up service to ensure current customers were well served so they not only wanted to return, but they would tell others about Cedrick’s fabulous restaurant as well.
A vision that works is concise and clear.
It can be easily understood and remembered by everyone in the organization. Two classic examples of concise visions are:
- Number 1 or 2; fix, sell, or close. (Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric)
- 2000 Stores by 2000 (Starbucks – Achieved 2200 stores by the end of 1999)
My rule is that a vision should be no more than one sentence long - and it can't be a run-on sentence. The above examples are short but powerful. They were also tremendously successful.
A vision that works can also answer the question, “How do we know when we get there?”
Re-read the visions listed above. Do you see how you could easily track progress towards or away from these visions? We could easily count the number of empty parking lot spaces. We could track our position in our respective industries. We could track the number of stores we had opened. Most of us have never worked for any of these companies, yet we can understand what they they wanted to accomplish because their visions were so clear. These vision statements worked because they were clear and focused. They worked because they were tangible and measurable. They worked because they allowed all of the employees to "see" the future. They were clear. They were concise. They worked.
So, what are mission statements?
Unlike the vision statement, which creates a clear picture of what you want to accomplish or become (a target or goal), the mission statement, clarifies what you do as an organization — why you exist — who you serve. That’s its job. The mission statement clarifies for everyone who works with you, and those with whom you interact, just exactly what business you’re in. I tell my clients, “Your 87 year old Aunt Clara needs to be able to understand this. If your elderly relative - who doesn't work with you - understands what your organization's mission is - your employees and leadership team will be clear on what it is you do - and don't do as well. Keep it simple.”
A good mission statement clarifies why you exist.
Many organizations have nebulous mission statements that sound nice but only serve to confuse everyone as to what they're supposed to be doing and who they're supposed to be serving or supporting:
We are committed to delivering the highest-quality, state-of-the-art services and products that support our customers while servicing them with honesty, integrity, and professionalism.
That’s all well and good, but what do you actually do? This statement provides no clarity as to what the organization does, who it serves, or what it produces. It puts no "book-ends" on the organization's focus or offerings. In fact, the above sample mission statement is simply a waste of space. I hope every organization is committed to providing the highest-quality services and products, to supporting its customers, and to servicing them with honesty, integrity, and professionalism. There's nothing helpful to the leadership team or employees in this mission statement. If you shared this mission with your Aunt Clara, she'd probably say something like, "Well isn't that nice?" and she'd still be confused as to what you do.
A good mission statement is clear, simple, and understood by anyone who hears it.
Now here’s an example of a solid mission statement:
The Board of Supervisors of Elections for Washington County’s overall mission is to assure that all eligible citizens are provided the opportunity to vote in local, state, and federal elections, and to monitor and verify the voting procedures in Washington County. (Washington County, Maryland)
That's it. It's clear. It’s well written and it states very simply who it services and why its exists. If you worked there and shared this mission with your Aunt Clara, she'd probably say, “Well you’ve got a very important job then don’t you?”
To wrap up:
Vision and mission statements have two very different meanings and serve two very different purposes. If you do not delineate between the two, believe me, you’ll end up creating a leadership nightmare. You will not have a unified focus on what specifically your organization is trying to accomplish together, and you'll creep into services and offerings outside your intended mission. Your leadership team will start to fracture as you each justify your actions as you've interpreted the vision and mission. Why set your leadership team up for confusion and conflicts? Create clarity with your leadership team and set your organization up for success. Get clear on who you want to serve and how. Then define how far you want to go.
Clarify your mission and then define your vision. Get clear. Your Aunt Clara, your leadership team, and your employees will thank you.
Copyright MMXI - Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC – www.WBSLLC.com +1.717.597.8890
Liz supports clients with strategic and succession planning, as well as leadership training and executive coaching.