Updated: Jul 16
All journeys begin with a destination. Your continuous improvement journey is no different. In continuous improvement planning, your destination is encapsulated by your mission, vision, and values. These three key elements of the strategic planning process help your team to ground itself in clear and focused way. Before you can determine who you want to be you must first clarify who you are. In this post, I want to explore these three key elements and help you get started on your improvement planning journey.
Your mission statement tells the world who you are and what you do. It is a short, one to two sentence statement that encapsulate the core elements of your work. Your mission statement should be present focused and help to articulate the what and how of your work. A well crafted mission statement will help both internal and external stakeholders better understand who you are.
Your vision tells the world what you hope to accomplish. When working with clients on vision development, I always start with this question: If your work is successful, what will the world look like? Your vision is future focused and helps to articulate the why behind your mission. A well crafted vision statement will help internal and external stakeholders understand what you hope to accomplish and serve as the hook that they need to get onboard.
Your value statement is a list of the core principles that you bring to you work. While some organizations choose to craft a full statement, others simply opt for a list of three to five core values that penetrate your work. They key to a successful values statement is to be sure you select values that you can demonstrate and live through your daily operations. This is not a places to be aspirational. This is a time to take a real hard look at what your organization believes in. A well crafted values statement helps internal and external stakeholders know what you really care about and how you might approach the work at hand.
Crafting your Statements
When its time to begin your improvement planning process, it is always good to start with a review of your mission, vision, and values. If you already have these statements in place then you should begin by revisiting them. I like to put them up on posters around the room and give my team time to check in with the statements. Using sticky notes, I have my team go around and record thoughts or feelings on the notes and post them on the posters. Then, we can debrief those thoughts and make sure that the statements still feel right. If they don’t feel right, then we can engage in a conversation about updating them.
If your team doesn’t already have a mission, vision, and values statement, now is the time to create one. I start each conversation with one of the prompts below. Then, with my team, we do a live editing session where we work through the prompts until we shape the statements into something that feels right. Sometimes this can take a couple of sessions, as the word-smithing can get in the way. Sometimes its best to end the session and appoint one person to tinker with the statements until you can return and revisit them.
Here are the prompts I usually start with:
Mission: At (organization name) we (do stuff) in order to (make stuff happen).
Vision: When we are successful, the world will be…
Values: At the heart of our work are…