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Grasping at Smoke.

January 7, 2015

Myatt on Values and VisionIt’s the vision thing. You know, that BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal). That Yonder Star. Trying to put that feeling, emotion and passion into a short meaningful statement is like grasping at smoke. You can’t ever quite catch it. Yet it is critical to do so to make sure your organization knows why it exists.

A long time ago, I found this very useful tidbit from Mike Myatt:

“Values should underpin Vision, which dictates Mission, which determines Strategy, which surfaces Goals that frame Objectives, which in turn drives the Tactics that tell an organization what Resources, Infrastructure and Processes are needed to support a certainty of Execution.” (Mike Myatt, 1988)

This is a pretty interesting way to look at how to develop a vision and where it fits in the hierarchy of organizational sound bites. Here’s what strikes me about the statement. It starts right out with something that very few individuals and perhaps fewer organizations think deeply about defining — VALUES. Oh, I don’t mean the easy ones like respecting individuals. I mean really thinking about why the founders were compelled to build the organization.

For-profit businesses lose this value concept because it is assumed that the company was founded to express or implement an idea about a product or service that was missing in the marketplace or perhaps was a passionate pursuit of the founder(s). The question to keep asking is “why.” Why do you want to “plug that hole” in the marketplace? Keep asking why until you get to what I call fundamental organizing principles (FOPs). The values derive from the FOPs. The vision has to live out the values. It’s really hard work.

Assuming that the founder of an organization wishes that organization be the embodiment of those values and assuming that the product or service provided will help live out those values, then the hard work of wordsmithing a clear, concise and memorable vision statement can begin. It’s likely that the vision is something that cannot be achieved in any normal lifetime. It is meant to be something that inspires us to lean into or to live into it rather than to “achieve it” directly. The mission statement is a bit closer to earth and of course, strategy, goals and objectives are all achievable and as Myatt says, support a certainty of execution.

I’m confident that as you think about this you will come to realize that what Myatt has expressed relatively simply is in no way a simple, quick process. Here then is a good example of simplicity on the other side of complexity.

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