How Vision, Mission, Goals, and Values Are Relevant

“Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.” – Japanese proverb

It is difficult to start this book with a discussion of vision, mission, goals, and values. I say that because many times these concepts are fuzzy and poorly communicated. They are viewed as a waste of time and a bunch of mumbo-jumbo that nobody really acts upon.But I also feel that what follows will be lost it isn’t put on a firm solid foundation. And that’s what establishing good vision, mission, and values do for an organization. Basically “if you don’t have a destination, you’ll never get there”.

In some ways talking about Mission, vision, and values is a little bit like starting on a long hike with a bunch of Boy Scouts. You’re in the parking lot, its dusty, you pull your backpacks out of the cars, you’re getting ready to go. Everybody’s excited about leaving. Everybody has in the back of their minds what it is that they hope to experience.Trying to verbalize at such a moment in time why each scout was on the trip, what they hope to experience, and how to behave safely or what to do in case of an accident is really boring stuff. Try this with a bunch young teenage boys or girls and you know exactly what I mean. Working environments aren’t much different. But the Boy Scout motto is to be prepared. So that is exactly what we’re going to do at the start of this book.

If well laid out, the vision, mission, values, objectives and strategy for an organization define in five different ways why it exists. It is as powerful as that. And we need multiple views because like it or not the reasons why a business exists are not clean. They are very messy. There are times when what we wish to do to support our vision conflicts with the values that we wish to abide by. For example, some of the consumer recalls in the 1990s related faulty drugs foods and toys clearly brought forward conflicts that companies had between their objectives to make shareholders a quarterly return and their values expressing their commitment to their community and all customers. Having these well laid out for an organization allows an open and transparent discussion amongst individuals on what is the best path forward. Johnson & Johnson for example made the short term expensive decision to recall their products in one such famous example of living by the company values when the choice comes between values and objectives. This is particularly important because we’re going to talk about combining the roles of business development, marketing, technical and intellectual property into a seamless transparent working environment. Individuals will likely have different supervisors. In their groups’ metrics and therefore their own pay may be contingent on carryout objectives and strategy. If you look at their objectives in isolation from one another it could result in conflict with the company’s overall values, vision and mission. This will be discussed later in this book. It’s important that these teams know what the vision, mission, values are so they can look for win-win ways to define their projects and their working relationships in a way that achieves exactly what the company and individuals desire. James Collins goes into this is great detail in his book “Beyond Entrepreneurship”. The Johnson & Johnson view is best expressed in the book “General Johnson Said….”