Make Sure You Understand The Mission (Statement)

At this point we’ve looked at the company mission statement and broken it down into goals the company is pursuing. But it’s important to know we got it right. If we are aiming at the wrong target, nobody cares if we hit it. Or, as I often tell my peers, our team can play the best game of basketball ever, and it won’t matter if the business was playing soccer.

This is the reason we need to test our work. Companies often have mission statements they don’t follow. For example, a company’s mission statement might focus on quality and customer experience. However, the real goal of the company could be to get enough investor backing to IPO. They may still pay some attention to quality and customer experience, but those are not the primary driver for the business. In cases like this, the behavior of the company may be at odds with the mission statement. Here’s how you can find out.

  • Follow the money. Companies measure and reward success for the things they care about. Pay particular attention to senior leaders when doing this. For example, if the mission statement says the customer experience is the most important thing, but the senior leadership have no compensation or other incentives tied to it, it is not going to be their area of focus. Incentives and compensation will tell us what the company wants its people to focus on.
  • Look for the common topics of conflict and debate among senior leaders. From the example above, if the leadership spends all of its time worrying about IPO-related tasks and little or no time worrying about the customer experience, this is an indicator that an IPO, not the customer experience, is the real goal.
  • Read what is being said about the company from outside. Understanding what those outside the company perceive to be its mission and goals can point towards places where the company’s goals and mission statement do not match, and suggest ways we can correct our narrative.

Once we’ve run through these quick tests and made any adjustments needed, we can be pretty confident we have gotten a handle on some of the things the company is trying to accomplish.

Now we need to find some ways of advancing these goals. We have to fit ourselves into the narrative.

[Next: Making your team a part of the company’s story]

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David Nix

Senior Technology Executive using innovation, business acumen and technical expertise to guide companies through inflection points