Innovation Junkies Podcast

Four Things You Need for Organizational Unity

In this episode, the Jeffs talk about what it takes to keep everyone in your organization rowing in the same direction. They discuss the difference between your mission & your vision, how to get buy-in from everyone in your organization, and the importance of defined core values.

Jeff Standridge (Intro):
Are you ready to change the trajectory of your business and see massive improvements? Each week, we’ll share strategies and practices to generate sustained results and long lasting success in your organization. Welcome to the Innovation Junkies Podcast.

Jeff Standridge:
Hey, guys, welcome to another episode of the Innovation Junkies Podcast. I’m Jeff Standridge.

Jeff Amerine:
And this is Jeff Amerine. What are we going to be talking about today, Jeff?

Jeff Standridge:
Hey. So, the last several episodes, we’ve been talking about revenue velocity, we’ve been talking about sales and marketing activities, and all the various aspects of building that sales culture, building a high-performing sales force, and identifying your ideal client profile, and et cetera. Now we’re going to start shifting into the second domain. Incidentally, these are the domains that we measure with our GrowthDX tool. But we’re going to be talking about organizational effectiveness for the next five or six episodes or so. Today, we’re going to be talking about the importance of mission and vision, four things every organization needs to keep everyone rowing in the same direction. Four things every organization needs to keep everyone rowing in the same direction. So, Jeff, I know this is a specialty area for you as well, and I’d love for you to maybe kick us off here.

Jeff Amerine:
Yeah, I’d be glad to. That mission, that statement of mission, mission statement, sometimes that’s coupled with purpose, but it’s got to answer two important questions. Why does this organization need to exist and what does it do every day? And it’s so important to be able to state that in a clear, simple statement that everyone can recite, something that is memorable and something that will resonate with anyone that hears it. It’s just critically important. It’s not marketing eyewash for a placard on the wall, it’s really the reason for being that should motivate everyone in the organization to show up at work every day and to do what they do.

Jeff Standridge:
I completely agree with you and couldn’t agree more, in fact. It’s one of the measuring sticks that an organization should use to determine the kinds of activities that it engages in or the kinds of new opportunities. Now, there’s another measuring stick we’ll talk about in a moment, but this is one of those measuring sticks, that when a new opportunity comes down the pike, an organization’s executive leadership team and, depending on the organization, maybe even its board of directors should ask the question, is this something we should pursue? And bouncing it up against, or bumping it up against the mission statement is a good way to actually do that.

Jeff Amerine:
Yeah, it’s important to be able to tell whether that’s something that’s consistent with your mission or something that you shouldn’t do. Or, for that matter, if it is something of interest, you change the mission statement to reflect a new initiative that you’re going to undertake, if it’s new scope, a new activity that you’re going to pursue. But for sure, that is that sort of guiding statement that gets everybody headed in the same direction.

Jeff Standridge:
A clear and compelling reason why the organization exists or what you do as an organization, absolutely. Talk about vision, if you will.

Jeff Amerine:
Yeah. And so, vision’s a little bit different and vision is a statement of aspiration. It’s typically time bound, three to five years out, and it’s a statement of what you aspire to be. A lot of people will call this the North Star statement, this is what we hope to be, this is the impact we intend to have, and this is the timeframe against which we intend to achieve it. The company that’s close to our heart that we know, and the other hat we wear with Startup Junkie, we established a vision statement a few years ago that said, “We’re going to fuel 10 times more innovation and entrepreneurial activity by 2025.” So, it was time bound, it was very specific. We had metrics that could show what 10 times more meant. And it was tied back to that mission that we had of empowering and enabling innovators, entrepreneurs, and small business owners every day. And so, that’s where you want to get. And it can be aspirational, might be something you don’t achieve, but it’s a good North Star.

Jeff Standridge:
Yeah, that’s right. And unfortunately, so many organizations, in my experience, and I think yours as well, miss the boat by crafting this ambiguous, flowery statement, that really, one, it could never be achieved, number one. It’s just this extremely aspirational statement and has no real measures to it. But even if there could be measures, the likelihood of getting… We want to solve world hunger, or those kinds of mission statements I’m talking about. Yeah, that’s great to work towards solving world hunger, but what’s the specific destination three to five years out at which you aspire to arrive, that you can then look at the appointed time and say, “Did we get here or did we not?”
So, while a mission statement tends to be fairly static, a vision statement really ought to change and be updated at least every three to five years, based upon did you get there, did you not. You’ve already hit on a couple of the items, but we’ve said that it’s aspirational. It should be inspirational. In other words, it should be compelling to the troops, something that you can rally the troops around. So, aspirational, inspirational, time bound, and have absolute clarity.

Jeff Amerine:
100%. And it’s, again, another measure that you can use to say, is this new initiative or this new plan or this new target, or this new project, consistent with what we said our vision was going to be? Is it going to help us get to that vision that we had, that point in the future, that destination that we’re pursuing? And if the answer is no, then you don’t do it, or you change your vision, either way, but it gives you that decision gate, that otherwise without a clearly articulated vision, you wouldn’t have.

Jeff Standridge:
That’s right. It’s not a substitute for leadership judgment. I think about mission and vision statements that were created pre-COVID. COVID rendered many strategic plans, file 13 material, straight to the waste basket. And so, what you may do when you’re doing that actual assessment, or you’re using mission and vision as a measuring stick, you may say, this new opportunity, no, it doesn’t match our strategic direction, or yes, it does match our strategic direction. Or, and you brought this up, no, it doesn’t match our strategic direction, but we didn’t contemplate the environment we’re in when we actually created our strategic direction, so we need to make some adaptations here. And so, leadership judgment is still a critical component, even though you have a good quality mission and vision statement.

Jeff Amerine:
Well, 100%. And as you think about developing, revising, articulating, documenting mission and vision, it can’t be done in a star chamber, just a cobble of senior leaders for their own devices that at some point maybe gets put on a poster somewhere. Talk about how you cascade that mission and vision throughout the organization and why it’s critical to do that.

Jeff Standridge:
Yeah. So, unfortunately, what a lot of people do is they get a very small number of people in the room, three to five, they craft out this mission and vision, and then they attempt to cascade something. And the very first time the masses of the organization have seen it, is when it’s being rolled out. Well, that’s the absolute wrong way to get buy-in. Stephen Covey, as you mentioned in a previous episode, said, “Seek first to understand before seeking to be understood.” Well, he also said, “Mark it down. Without involvement, there will be no commitment. Without involvement, there will be no commitment.” So, engaging in a process where you can collect feedback from the masses, and it can be a survey process or some form of a process where people can feed into perhaps a strategic planning steering team, or a strategic planning committee, some of their thoughts about what mission, vision, and core values ought to be, is great.
As I said, survey, or focus groups, or town hall meetings, or what have you, but give people the opportunity to weigh in, work with your planning team, and build your actual strategic plan or a draft of your strategic plan. And then using that same mechanism or mechanisms, send it back out to the masses for feedback and give folks an opportunity to rate the mission statement you’ve come up with, to provide comments about the vision statement you’ve come up with, etcetera. So, this constant back and forth of using a small group of people to craft, to assimilate the information, to synthesize the information that comes from the masses, but then giving those folks the opportunity to provide feedback. That’s the very first way that you start a quality and successful cascading process, is you engage them in the building process.
Then once you actually get your mission, vision, and your core values created, you actually then begin the process of rolling it out. And you remind people in your rollout that this is the strategic plan that you helped to create. You remind them that they were involved in the process. I was working with a client not long ago, where we were rolling it out to the team. We had actually had a three day offsite. We had engaged the entire staff and the board of this small organization.
And then when we were rolling it out to them, it was admittedly a few months later, because they’d gone through a leadership change, several of the staff were saying, “Well, this is not our strategic plan. We didn’t get to be involved in this.” So, we had to remind them, “Well, now let’s go back. You remember these dates when we went off site and when we sent you this survey back?” And they were like, “Oh, yeah.” So, making sure they understand that they were involved in the process, that you remind them they were involved in the process, and then use them in the cascading of that as you’re communicating and rolling out as well.

Jeff Amerine:
Yeah, it’s critically important. And that communications and get the buy-in, to get the involvement so there’s not just, here it is, but really much more of them having had some ownership in pulling it together. And I think that you alluded to core values as well. And I think these things are taken together in the process that we espouse and how we run our own organization. It’s this idea of answering the question of why it matters, your reason for being, that’s captured in the mission statement, what we do as well as a mission statement. The statement of aspiration, the vision, time bound, that’s super important. And then as you think of, that’s kind of the where, the destination of where you’re going, and then how are your behavioral guardrails or your core values. That’s how you’re going to play the game, how you’re going to treat customers, how you’re going to treat stakeholders, how you’re going to treat each other. And those things taken together, begin to establish the DNA of the culture and of the strategic plan. And those two things are linked, they’re not separate thought processes. Those two things have to go hand in hand.

Jeff Standridge:
And we actually mention this in a previous episode when we were talking about sales culture, but if you’re not hiring, firing, coaching, and rewarding people, according to their demonstration of their core values, then you’re missing an opportunity. We actually went so far as to say they’re not core. And I would even go one step further and say that if the people in your organization cannot recite the core values on demand or on command, if you will, or upon request, they’re not really core or they’re certainly not impacting people’s behavior. And so, having these, just as we said with the vision statement, a clear, crisp, a compelling statement of aspiration, inspiration, and time boundness is important for mission and vision. It’s also important for core values. Clear, crisp, and compelling, that people can commit to memory, that they can use on a daily basis as a tool to assess how they’re doing. And the other thing with core values, Jeff, is that it provides permission for people within the organization to hold each other accountable to the cultural elements of the organization as well.

Jeff Amerine:
Right. And it ought to be talked about that way. It shouldn’t be, the thing is we always say that it’s in a three ring binder or on a poster somewhere, it needs to inform tactically what you do every day, how you treat each other, how you interact with customers, and how you hire and fire. So critical to being successful in an organization, no doubt about it.

Jeff Standridge:
That’s right. Mission, vision, value, the three triad, if you will, to building a sustainable organizational culture and laying the foundation for sustained strategic growth over time. This has been another episode of the Innovation Junkies Podcast. Thank you for joining.

Jeff Amerine:
See you next time.

Jeff Amerine (Outro): Feedback from listeners like you helps us create outstanding content. So, if you like this episode, be sure to rate us or leave a review. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to get the latest growth in innovation strategies. Thanks for tuning in to the Innovation Junkies Podcast.

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