Is Mission, Vision and Values still relevant?

For some time the triumvirate of mission, vision and values has seemed out dated and rather corporate. We have tended to talk about purpose, proposition and values instead. However when trying to fathom our own purpose, proposition and values for some reason we reverted to the mission, vision and values terminology.

It seems that the way that corporates have abused mission, vision and values is why we have a problem with it. Intended to be a force for good, they have all too often been used to impose a way of doing things that has been invented by the powers that be to achieve their commercial goals. This often results in stressed staff whose motivation is undermined by lack of empowerment and expression.

So it seems odd that we ended up using mission, vision and values to work on our own ‘purpose, proposition and values’. This might be explained by the meaning which was originally intended in the terms and that it is our pre-conceptions that are getting in the way of them being useful. Which is why with our new found open mindedness we carried on with revisiting our mission, vison and values rather than our purpose, proposition and values.

We did this by arranging time away from the office and out of hours. But this wasn’t some sort of away day or weekend with disruptive team games and leadership training. This was as simple as two separate two hour meetings each over a meal and a few drinks. By taking it slowly and not expecting too much of the occasion we feel we have achieved something worth sharing.

Starting with the open ended question of “How do we think things will look as we leave the business?”. A pleasing thing to discover was that neither of us want it to end when we exit. Being significantly older than David I know I will be leaving before him. I don’t have comprehensive pension plans so ideally somebody would want to buy me out of my share. David declared that he would want to continue working with a business partner. We both realise with the businesses reliance on the relationships that the people who run it forge, it is unlikely to be of interest to another business or an investor. So the notion of bringing someone on board to gradually take over what I do and the relationships that I have forged and to develop their own seems obvious.

This helped crystalise my thinking and I realised a great way to exit would be to reduce my input by a day a week each year with my final year serving just two days a week. I am unlikely to be able to afford to retire much before 70. So the earliest we would need to start this process would be from my 65th birthday. The individual we took on would need to establish themselves so again we are looking at 2 to 3 years prior to that. So we would be looking to appoint someone by my 62nd birthday. Which would mean we have 6 years to get the business in a position to be able to afford this transition – and in all probability fail in our first selection of a suitable replacement for me. To give us some breathing room we would be aiming to have the business ready to take on the prospective candidate in just 4 years time.

This really focuses the mind on the practicalities of the situation and David seemed satisfied that his exit from the business could look similar, just some years after mine.

At this point we decided we should turn to what we could do to continue to generate us income and at the same time provide us with fulfilment. We are fortunate that we work in an industry that is reliant on creativity which in turn is reliant on a form of serendipity that cannot be replicated by AI. We are also fortunate that trust and mutually invigorating relationships form a large part of successful business-to-business transactions – again something that AI cannot replicate.

By this point we were tired and a little tipsy so we agreed to re-convene to carry on the discussions over a second meal and drinks. Actually I think that is a good point for me to take a break from writing this and I shall share the conclusion of our discussions from the next meal in a subsequent post.


Article by Rob Harrison