Three Keys To Strategic Edge

| Published by Mark Akerley under Newsletters |

It’s that time of year again when companies are evaluating year end results and solidifying next year’s plans – an important process to say the least. However, in doing so be sure to allow yourself an opportunity to think strategically, i.e. “big picture” and “holistic”, and not just operationally, i.e. “tactics” and “projects”.  Thinking strategically enables you to develop the right plans at the right time and for the right reasons.

A simple strategic thinking warm-up exercise is to review and assess your mission, vision and values. Well, I’ll let you be the judge on just how simple or not that may be – but here is a primer to get you going.

Mission, of course, is simply a statement of your company’s purpose or why it exists. It needn’t be cleverly written, lofty, or even inspirational. It should, however, be crystal clear to you and everyone connected with your organization – directing all to contribute their very best to your company goals and objectives. A good example of a simple and clear mission statement is from Ben & Jerry’s, the Vermont ice cream maker. It reads: “To make, distribute and sell the finest quality all-natural ice cream and related products in a wide variety of innovative flavors made from Vermont dairy products”

Anyone working at or with Ben & Jerry’s certainly knows what the company is all about and if they’re contributing to the company mission. A few questions to consider when writing your mission statement are:

.. What products or services do we provide?
.. Who do we do this for (and where)?
.. What value do we offer?

It really is that simple. But again, make sure it’s crystal clear.

Vision is usually not as simple. Some would argue it is the most critical element for an organization’s success. It provides direction and drives everything that is done in your company. It may be an overused cliché, but it’s true—a company without a vision is like a ship without a rudder. It’s your responsibility to set the vision for your company, i.e. a clear and compelling picture of what the future will look like.

Unlike a mission statement, it’s good to make your company vision challenging, even inspirational. Being on board with where the company is going motivates people to become fully engaged in the company’s business – associates and vendors alike. Also, committing your vision to a carefully written statement creates an excellent tool for assessing progress and change, maintaining focus, and enlisting others on your company’s journey to success. An example of a great vision statement comes from Microsoft Corporation, i.e. “empower people through great software, any time, any place, and on any device”.

This vision statement is not only a challenge, but a driving force for innovation and growth. Your vision statement should be relatively brief, focused, flexible, feasible, and easily understood. A few questions to consider when preparing your vision are:

.. How do I define my company now in terms of quality, size, and reputation?
.. How do I see my company in the future, in terms of quality, size, reputation?
.. How will I WOW! my customers in the future?

Once you’ve established your vision, talk about it, refer to it, and integrate it into everything you do. Let it be the driving force that pushes you and your company forward.

Values are individual working traits and qualities that are as important to you as your company goals and objectives. They are strongly held beliefs about how your company should go about its work. They define behavior and mindset rather than results and outcomes. They are the fundamental rules of engagement for working in your company. Virtually all successful business leaders, from solo-preneurs to CEO’s of large corporate entities, attribute their success to a strong set of values. They report that the tough job of continuous decision-making is greatly enhanced by the integration of their values and guiding beliefs into their daily work. Typically just a few carefully considered traits and qualities representing the cornerstones of the way work will be conducted in your company are your core values. For example, General Electric’s values are: Imagine – Solve – Build – Lead, which GE uses to guide all employees in everything they do – from complex strategic planning to everyday job duties.

Will your mission, vision, values – drive your company’s success?


Sigma Resource Group, Inc 521 S. La Grange Rd. Suite 206 La Grange, IL 60525 | T:708.354.4673