Qocreate is going through a transition of sorts as the company looks toward becoming a federal contractor in its own right. We have accomplished a lot of the baseline paperwork already. DUNS number? Check. NAICS code selections? Check. SAM registration? Check.
Vision statement? As of a week ago, it looked like this.
To enhance / optimize / increase opportunity / business / revenue through purposeful / significant / meaningful content / communications experiences.
It’s a Mad Lib.
When you type “mission v” into the Google machine, the first thing that pops up is, of course, “mission vs vision,” and the first result is a Google box from Bain & Company, a management consulting firm. This what Bain has to say about mission versus vision.
“A Mission Statement defines the company’s business, its objectives and its approach to reach those objectives. A Vision Statement describes the desired future position of the company. Elements of Mission and Vision Statements are often combined to provide a statement of the company’s purposes, goals and values. However, sometimes the two terms are used interchangeably.” [Emphasis added.]
Now, Bain has 56 offices in 36 countries. If they can’t definitively say what the difference is in common usage, who are we to do so?
A little more research turns up a HubSpot article titled 12 Truly Inspiring Company Vision and Mission Statement Examples. Like Bain, the author here says that a mission statement is an organization’s statement of purpose, where a vision statement is aspirational. However, of the 12 examples cited, exactly one is categorized as a vision statement. It belongs to IKEA: “to create a better everyday life for the many people.” (Yes, that’s directly from IKEA’s website; perhaps a bit is lost in translation, but it’s still a lofty goal.)
We devoted the majority of our last staff meeting to visioning. To be honest, it was a little painful. We are a small team of talented, educated, articulate individuals who all get along swimmingly and share a collective vision for this company that is actually really unified. Why then is it so hard to state that vision in a compelling way?
Part of it is what is expected. This is our vision, but it needs to align with what market research indicates our potential clients seek as well. It would be nice to think that we could just literally do whatever we want, but for most companies competing for government and commercial work, that just isn’t true.
Part of it is semantics. Are separate mission and vision statements really necessary for a small company like ours? Shouldn’t a company always be incorporating the future into its present as it looks to grow and develop? Many companies go through strategic planning processes that result in a strategic plan that begins with mission and vision and just winds up gathering dust somewhere. No one has time for that.
Part of it is what we’re selling: services. There’s a reason that 10 of the 12 HubSpot examples above are products; there are many different zippy ways of saying that a company wants to sell the best Product X, whether it is iced tea, clothing, or air travel. Most consumers can identify with wanting or needing at least one of those items. When you sell fairly specialized services, your mission and vision and elevator speech can easily become murky versions of one another as you seek to explain what you do and how you are best at doing it all in just a few words.
The last part - the valuable part - is that visioning requires the leadership of any business to focus, to drill down deep into what the business really is and can be. When you are trying to sum up your dream for your business in just a few words, you have no choice but to highlight what is truly important. While we all agreed that the Mad Lib above was virtually meaningless in any combination, we did find that the word that stuck out for all of us was purposeful. That’s a start, and a good one.
A last thought: during the discussion, we turned to the Made Shop site. Their mission statement is downright inspirational for those of us tired of corporate-speak:
The Made Shop makes spaces, objects, films, and graphic designs of all kinds for all kinds of people. We all work together in Denver and L.A. and have a special expertise in making things that we don’t know to make (yet).
YES. This is what we are looking for. We want a simple way to express who we are and what we want to do in our business. Will it be a vision statement? A mission statement? A statement of purpose? Look for THAT soon.