You know the page. There might even be one in your organisation. At the top is purpose, and from there, the cascade continues …
I frequently see organisations that have the entire shebang including some I haven’t even listed. It’s madness. No one can hold all of them in a meaningful way. And trying leaves people stuck asking what’s relevant for their work. So they don’t use any.
Yes, some statements do have a specific part to play in guiding the enterprise. Unfortunately, too many overlap, conflict or outright cancel each other out. Which begs the question, how did this bloated screed happen?
Inside competing interests is one answer. C-suite want their chunk, human resources joins the fray, marketing ups the ante for a piece of the pie. And more recently customer experience has claimed a slice. All because owning a thing on the list translates to influence.
Any maybe it does in the short-term. But at the same time it sows confusion, muddies what the organisation is trying to achieve and undermines long-term value.
The ‘management thinking complex’ is another perpetrator. Back to influence. If I can get you to adopt my model then I’ve got an ‘in’ for continued work. It gives me credibility so I can sell more to others. If doing better with the basics is enough there’s less room for me to ‘add value’.
With every part of the organisation, group you work with and business book your read angling for a place on the list, here are a few tips to make it more manageable.
Your purpose is also your brand purpose. Your core values are also your brand values. Your business strategy doubles as a brand strategy. Your promise isn’t one thing. It’s all the things you communicate you intend to do. Essence and personality are fluffy proxies for purpose and values. People’s experience happens when promises get kept or broken, and deciding what they are needs to honour the other foundations, not live in a separate list.
A card-carrying member of club do less, more, I’ve never seen an organisation thrive under the weight of the whole list. Never. It’s unnecessary taxonomy when most people already have a few of the proven basics. Success is driven by how they deeply deliver those intentions, not adding more.
Read more about what makes a statement inspiring. Click here
So, get your purpose and values and bake them into every facet of your business. If you prefer to use vision or mission go for it. But beware of having more than one of them unless you’re clear what role they play and those roles are distinct and easy to explain. I see too many examples saying the same thing with different and contradicting words.
Then, add a layer of strategy and plans for what you’ll do today and tomorrow and how to make it happen. Finally, connect it to the world outside your enterprise with positioning, so customers know what you’re all about.
Then, in the day-to-day rumble of your unheroic work, get clear on what you can and can’t, will and won’t, do. It’s the only way you’ll make promises you can keep.
Put in place some measures to track progress on whatever matters most. I don’t care which ones. However, I generally counsel to avoid formal surveys. Instead, internal and external, look for places you’re already gathering data before you hit up employees and customers under the grasping guise of “help us improve”.
The day-to-day endeavour of work today is complex. People, products, geography and supply chains. Partners, finance, technology and resources. Changing environments and escalating expectations.
Why turn the inspiration and guidance of what matters most into a mush of completing statements? Keep it simple. Choose what truly works for you and focus on the doing.
See you next time.