trouble sleeping? Read a Mission Statement!
Oh I know that's a rather cynical way to start - but let's face
it - how many employees do you know have their corporate Mission
Statement taped to the bathroom mirror because it gives them an emotional
jolt on Monday morning?
Now, how many employees do you know who frankly
don't care if there is a Mission Statement or not? Exactly.What did we do before we had Mission Statements? Did we wander around
in a pointless daze wondering what to do? Of course not! We did our
jobs. Now that we all have Mission Statements what do we do? We do
our jobs. Does anyone else get the feeling that something is missing
The 'something missing' is called spirit. It's
the fire in the belly. The light in the eyes. The spring in the
step. The thrill of innovation.
The pride of quality. The satisfaction of service. The delight in
reward. Wrap these all up and you have something called Vision. I
define "Vision" as "seeing the future as though it
were already here." The evocative phrase I like to use instead of "vision" is "The
Richly Imagined Future." I think it has more life and action
in it, more spirit than the simple words "mission" or "vision." It
requires more than some vague goal hygienically written so as not
to arouse provocation.
If I were to ask you to describe your richly
imagined future, I would expect to hear something truly grand about
how you imagine a better world tomorrow. It would be grand because
imagination has no limits, especially if you are richly imagining
it. It would be vibrant and tasty. It would be intense in color and
depth. The richly imagined future is not anchored to last quarter's
results or to political complexities. It is the world as you dream
it could be.
Economic or Ecological?Grand statements of intention can be created on one of two levels:
an economic or an ecological level. Most corporate missions are economic
- and that is where any possible passion is hissed out of the human
Economy (from the Greek oikos nomos) literally means 'the
rules around here'. It refers to those things we measure and for
which we have hard data.
Ecology (oikos logos) refers to what is
really going on, the deeper meaning of the situation. The latter
is a fuzzy area - 'the soft stuff'. We don't have ready language
for it and it makes most corporate leaders uncomfortable. The economic is more about 'what' and 'how'.
The ecological is about 'why'. Without an answer to the question "WHY?" there can
be no purpose or passion. "Why?" is the universal question
created into every human heart. We are born asking it and, unfortunately
we have it pretty well bleached from our souls by the age of seven.
This is precisely what makes exciting our employees to vision so
Most people go through life without a "Why?" The
job and joy of leadership is to put the Why back!Why are you doing what you do?It does not take much to see that if we who lead the company do
not have a 'Why?' for ourselves, it will be impossible to instill
purpose and passion in anyone else. So - why are you doing what you
are doing? If it is only because you are the fifth generation owner
and you feel obligated to your heritage, so be it. If it is because
it was simply the best job you could get at the time, that too is
nothing to mock. On the other hand just do not expect anyone who
works for you to wake with a burning passion to get to work.
Now, if what you do glows in your soul, so that as a manager you
can't look at an employee without marveling at the responsibility
you've been granted, you can't take a Sunday afternoon drive without
seeing a new application for your product, you swell with pride when
you see the team surpass an impossible performance goal, you bow
in respect and admiration toward the one who went far beyond the
call of duty to serve the customer - then we are getting close to
the spirit of vision.
Make your Vision ecological and your Goals economicWithout a 'Why?' there can be no Vision! Here
is a typical why-less mission statement. "Our mission is to become the preferred supplier
in our chosen marketplace." Sends shivers of excitement through
your body doesn't it? This is no vision - it is a neutered statement
of survival. If you walked into your doctor's office and read on
the wall, "My mission is to reach a million dollars in patient
billings" would you stay for a single minute? If that disgusts
you, what makes you think that an economic mission statement would
excite your employees or customers? I want you to make a fortune,
but please, put your economic intentions into your goal statements
not your vision statement.
Again, why does your company do what it does?
Are you protecting treasured history? Are you bringing color and
joy into people's lives?
Do you bring wisdom to those who have to make decisions? Are you
dousing the anger and self-destruction so rampant in our world? Do
you bring nourishing food to kitchen tables? Are you keeping people
healthy and safe? Are you preserving that which is precious? Do you
help children get a decent start in life? In short, "How are
you making the world a better place?" You will know when you have reached an ecological vision because
it will make you stand back, almost like it is too big a responsibility.
You will feel that you do not deserve such a privilege. It will make
you tremble. And then you will begin to know the meaning of your
The following quotation must be printed
at the conclusion of each reprinted article:
"Copyright The Ian Percy Corporation."
Ian Percy is one of North America's most inspirational speakers.
Ian Percy is an international speaker and consultant
and can be reached at www.ianpercy.com