The Power of Mission and Values Statements

Few days ago, I posted an article titled, The Intagibles are the Glue that Hold Businesses Together. I am happy that many business owners read it and took practical steps.

In order to fully understand the intangibles, I want to show you how powerful mission and values statements are. You may not know it, but if you get these two important factors right, your organization will run on a well-paved highway to the top.

First of all, let me explain the connection between mission and values. Mission announces exactly where you are going, values describe the behaviour that will get you there.

An effective mission statement basically answer one question: How do we intend to win in this business?

Setting mission statement is top management’s responsibility. A mission cannot, and must not, be delegated to anyone except the people who will be held accountable for it.

A well crafted mission statement is great. And values that describe specific behaviours are too. But for a company’s mission and values to truly work together as a winning proposition, they have to be mutually reinforcing.

To further understand the implications of mission and values statements, let me share the story of two companies that made fatal mistakes in this regard.

“Arthur Anderson was founded over a century ago with the mission to become the most respected and trusted auditing firm in the world. It was a company that prided itself on having the courage to say no, even if that meant losing a client.

It succeeded by hiring the most capable, highest-integrity CPAs and rewarding them for doing work that rightfully earned the confidence of corporations and regulators around the world.

Then the boom of the 1980s arrived, and Arthur Anderson decided it wanted to start a consulting business; that’s where the excitement was, not to mention the big money.

The company started hiring more MBAs and paying them the constantly escalating salaries that the consulting industry demanded.

In 1989, the firm actually split into two divisions, a traditional accounting division, called Arthur Anderson, and Anderson Consulting. Both fell under one corporate umbrella, called Anderson Worldwide.

Rather than valuing conscientiousness, consulting firm generally encourage creativity and reward aggressive sales behaviour, taking the customer from one project to the next.

In the 1990s in particular, there was a real cowboy mentality in the consulting industry, and the accounting side of Anderson felt the impact. Some of its accountants clearly got swept up in the momentum, letting go of the auditing business values that had guided them for so long.

Throughout most of the 1990s, Arthur Anderson was a firm at war with itself. The consulting business was subsidizing the auditing side and didn’t like it, and you can be sure the auditing side wasn’t crazy about the bravado of the consulting types.

In these circumstances, how could people know the answer to questions like, “What really is our mission?” “What values matter most?” “How should we behave?”

Depending on which side of the firm you pledged allegiance to, your answer would be different, and that’s ultimately why the partners ended up in court with each other, trying to figure out how to divide the firm’s profits.

Eventually, in 2002, the house collapsed, due in no small part to the disconnect between its mission and values.”

When a company fails to clearly define where it is headed (mission) and how to get there (values), anybody can wake up tomorrow and introduce one idea or a product that will pull the company down at the end of the day.

The same thing happened to Enron. “In its prior life, Enron was a simple, rather than mundane pipeline and energy company. Everyone was focused on getting gas from point A to point B cheaply and quickly, a mission they accomplished very well by having expertise in energy sourcing and distribution.

Then, like Arthur Anderson, the company changed missions. Someone got the idea to turn Enron into a trading company. Again, the goal was faster growth.

Enron’s new mission meant it focused first on trading energy and then on trading anything and everything.

That change was probably pretty exciting at the time, but obviously no one stopped to figure out and explicitly broadcast what values and corresponding behaviours would support such a heady goal.

The trading desk was the place to be, and the pipeline and energy generation business got shoved to the background.

Unfortunately, there were no processes to provide checks and balances for the suspenders crowd. And it was in that context–of no context–that Enron’s collapse occurred.”

To truly follow mission statements, the leaders must constantly mention it in every meeting no matter the size. The leaders must publicly reward people who drive the mission and let go of people who couldn’t deal with it for whatever reason. That way, everyone in the organization will be running with the mission.

So, mission is where the company is headed. Values are the behaviours that will make the mission a reality.

The good news is that we can help you create a workable mission and value statements (if you’re ready to pay for the services). Simply click this link and sign up. Or call Godwin on 07032681154.

To order my books and audio programs, call 08064143363 or 07032681154.

Share your thought at the comment section below.

Keep soaring!

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1 thought on “The Power of Mission and Values Statements”

  1. Thanks dear Sir for this eye opener and vital information for all especially we the upcoming entrepreneurs!


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