One of the central tenets of what we advocate is the Company Purpose embodied by the Mission, Vision and Core Company Values. Though this may sound like total Consultant-Speak, we use this as a central and practical tool in our work with our clients. In essence, each of these become a filter for vetting decisions, from client selection to internal hires. If it doesn’t make it through the filter, one of two things has to happen: you have to either say ‘no’ to the opportunity/idea/new hire/etc…OR you need to change your Company Purpose.
From the above, you can see how instrumental the correctly developed and selected Company Purpose is – we often find that this is the longest, most difficult part of our strategy sessions. For example, let’s look at Core Company Values. Often, our clients start with themes like: honesty, integrity, hard-working, etc. Yes, of course these are important values, however, aren’t these obvious? It’s like a restaurant specifying that they are 100% vermin-free…why even bring up the issue? In his book The Advantage, Patrick Lencioni refers to these as “Permission to Play” values. If you don’t have those values, you shouldn’t be allowed to “play.”
The strategic planning session is a forum to distill the essence of the company – sweeping away those elements that ALL companies should have and focusing on those that are a differentiator is what we seek to accomplish. For example, a high-end law firm client of ours embraces the following values as they are essential to the delivery of their service offering: Gentility, First-Class Work Product, Empathy, and Responsiveness. Another client in the training and learning development field advocates the following: Relationship Building, Respect, Accountability, Honest Communication, and Flexibility.
Use your Core Company Values as the multi-purpose tool that it can be and resist the temptation to generate an insipid list that will be meaningless the minute you generate it.