Your vision, mission and values constitute your DNA, personal and corporate. Here’s why and how.
Whether one-on-one executive coaching or one-on-few, an exercise that energizes me most is getting into personal/corporate vision, mission and values. Once, I was invited to be a keynote speaker at an organization whose founder and CEO I greatly admire and respect. After the plane ride and having rested up, I got to their premises and looked round their impressive corporate building (no mortgage; all already paid for). I couldn’t help noticing the huge murals that spelt out the organization’s vision and mission. They were literally bill boards all over the walls trying to spell out why they existed and what they sort to accomplish.
Then I began to be concerned as what had been stated as their vision looked like what should be the mission and the mission was… well, let’s just say I was concerned. How was I to bring this up to the ‘big man’ without offending him too much, especially knowing how vital vision, mission and values are in giving life and forming persons and organizations? Without a deep and urgent intervention regarding the writings on the wall, I was afraid the writing was on the wall.
SOME CORPORATE SCIENCE
Permit the doctor in me to explain some fundamentals about DNA. DNA is the material that carries all the information about how a living thing will look and function. Each piece of information is carried on a different section of the DNA. These sections are called genes. DNA is short for deoxyribonucleic acid. It is in every cell of every living thing, even your fingernails! DNA is tiny but consequential; scientists need to use very powerful microscopes to see them. DNA has a complex structure but basically looks like a ladder that is twisted into a spiral. Each piece of DNA has two long strands (like the sides of a ladder). The two strands are joined together by chemical bases that form the rungs of the ladder.
Person and organizations are living things also. Vision, mission and values are the stuff that carry all the information about how they will look and function, survive and thrive. Vision and mission are akin to the two helical strands of DNA and values are the pieces that hold both sides together like the rungs of a ladder. This is the biochemistry of corporations.
Do you know that what determines how you look (eg. colour and texture of your hair, colour of your eyes and skin), how your lungs work, your blood type etc. are all determined by DNA? There are about 3 billion pairs of the chemical bases on the strands that connect with the other strand. The order in which the bases are arranged is very important. It forms a code that tells cells to make certain kinds of proteins. The differences in these proteins is what makes different living things—such as a plant, a panther, and two different people—different. You and I are different as persons, so are Unilever and Microsoft, or F.C. Barcelona and Manchester United, based on DNAs. Arsenal’s DNA codes for redness and Chelsea’s for blueness.
When DNA works correctly, it helps keep the body functioning properly. DNA helps cells to make proteins, which the cells need to live. DNA also allows living things to reproduce. The genes in DNA pass along physical traits from parents to children. Sometimes there are mistakes in DNA. These mistakes are called mutations. They can cause diseases and other problems.
Here are two disturbing observations I’ve made regarding vision, mission and values. One is the peer pressure of having them because just because ‘everyone else does’ and it’s in vogue. This pressure to look good because you have a mission statement on your office wall has gone even to the extent that people even look at those of companies or persons they admire and just blindly copy them as their own! Imagine my body copying your body’s DNA! The other disturbing observation is that people have no idea which is which (particularly vision and mission) and have them all over the place! If you need personal or corporate coaching to get this right, please do! This is vital. Vision, mission and values are really the life-giving, life-forming and life-replicating essence of persons and organizations.
VISION & MISSION
Vision is literally what we want to SEE. It is about Being. Think of it as a noun. Mission is what we want to DO to see what we want to see. It is about Doing. Think of it as a verb.
So for example, my vision for this executive education company YAW PERBI is to see a flourishing global ecosystem of authentic leaders characterized by healthy growth, holistic success and lasting significance. Consequently, our mission is to offer authentic and customized relationships and resources to C-level executives to grow personally, succeed professionally and become significant corporately.
Another family company that is into library services for children is known as Perbi Cubs. That company has a different DNA from YAW PERBI, though both entities bear the name Perbi and have some things in common. The DNA of Perbi Cubs is different because its vision, mission and values are different. The vision of Perbi Cubs is to see EVERY African family successful as a product of an enlightening culture of leisure reading. And what are they doing to see what they want to see a.k.a mission? To deliver an evidence-based, literacy-promoting endeavour to an engaged community of families hungry to know more so they can be more, do better and succeed.
Yet another family business, Trenor Coats & Gowns Ltd., has had a vision since its founding in 2009 to be a leader in the textiles care industry in West Africa. The mission is to provide customers with world-class textile care services driven by state-of-the-art facilities, trained and dedicated employees, and superior customer services.
By now you’ve had enough to chew on regarding the double DNA helix of vision and mission. I’ll save the rungs of the DNA, values, for a later blog.
AT THE END OF THE DAY
Individuals and organizations ought to make the time to clearly hone out their clear vision, passionate mission and compelling values. This is a fundamental function of leadership. The help of a coach or consultant is highly recommended. It must be done right. I strongly advise individuals to make sure that their personal DNA aligns with the corporate DNA of whatever organization they work for/with (or seek to work for/with). DNA is life. No DNA, no life; bad DNA, bad life–be it personal or corporate. Choose life!