In today’s business world, speed matters. In operations, this means speed to react to a client’s request, speed to perform a process, and speed to deliver the product/service. When faced with strategic opportunities or threats, it’s the speed of quickly and comfortably making the right decision.
The Mission Statement and the Vision Statement provide a shortcut to fast, high quality strategic decisions. The Mission Statement answers the question “Why do we exist?” The Vision Statement answers the question “Where are we going?” The best answer to an important decision is frequently its fit with the Mission and Vision.
Creating powerful Mission and Vision statements is not easy or fast. It requires a deep understanding of client needs, the competitive landscape, and internal capabilities and interests. It also requires getting agreement amongst stakeholders who may have differing agendas. However, once the initial legwork is done and the Mission and Vision are in place, then the pace and quality of decision making improves significantly. In a fast moving world, that may make the difference between thriving and just stumbling along.
Let’s look at the hypothetical example of a $30 MM software developer for the healthcare industry. Their Mission statement is “Better health through better medical decisions,” and their Vision states their desire to become the premier decision support provider to medical practitioners in the United States.
The company has the opportunity to pursue a large project providing decision support to the U.S. Army’s tactical command. The project would use the company’s core capabilities in decision support and is appealing due to its size and its prominent client. It is not, however, within the medical space and is not consistent with the previously defined Mission and Vision. Before this project is pursued, the Executive team and possibly the Board should have a robust conversation about its impact on the company, and whether the Mission and/or Vision should be changed.
Now let’s say that the opportunity is slightly different – it’s a project to help the Army Medical Corps make better medical decisions in the field, thereby saving soldiers’ lives and improving their health. This opportunity clearly fits both the Mission and Vision, and can be aggressively pursued without much discussion.
Does your organization have a clearly defined Mission and Vision? Do they drive your business decisions, or are they just framed words on a wall?