Defining your vision and mission in a few hours during your leadership retreat is a practice from the past.
I helped a few clients do it years ago, and I quickly realized that I was encouraging the wrong practice.
Here are the problems with the way mission and vision are typically created:
- First of all, there is never clarity and consensus about which one is which and how to define them.
- They are too short to express why the world is better off as a result of your company’s existence.
- The process of defining them is traditionally collective and leads to this dreadful moment that feels like death by group wordsmithing.
- It’s selfish. Both are meant to describe what you want to achieve. It’s good if you need to motivate yourself. But outside of your team, who wants to hear about your ambition to be the top brand in your category. Your customers could certainly care less. You’re not inviting everyone around you to participate in something they all can benefit from.
- Vision and mission are often seen as useless because nobody really knows what they are supposed to help you do daily. As a result, management typically falls short of delivering on them.
I am, of course, not against great missions and visions. However, I think that most companies don’t have a good process to craft them. That’s a very costly problem.
Instead, you are better off starting by building a strategic narrative.
- Everyone understands what a story is. At least, everyone knows what a good one sounds like.
- Stories give you way more room to set the context that everyone operates within. This context brings meaning, motivation, aligns people and helps with decision-making.
- A strategic narrative is not just about you. A strategic narrative is a system of stories that you build intentionally to mobilize people to participate in a new opportunity. It turns your audience into participants.
- Just like coming up with the title of a book is easy once the book is written, crafting a mission and vision is easy when you have a strategic narrative.
- A narrative is, by definition, actionable. It tells us how to think about something. It includes a set of guidelines and provides knowledge about what to do in many different circumstances.
Something to consider.