Both people and organizations need to establish a strategic framework for significant success. This framework consists of:
a vision for your future,
goals and action plans to guide your daily, weekly and monthly actions.
Your organization's success and your personal success depend on how well you define and live by each of these important concepts.
Companies whose employees understand the mission and goals enjoy a 29 percent greater return than other firms (Watson Wyatt Work Study).
U.S. workers want their work to make a difference, but 75% do not think their company's mission statement has become the way they do business (Workplace 2000 Employee Insight Survey).
Read more to find out how to develop a successful strategic framework for your organization and yourself.
A vision is a statement about what your organization wants to become. It should resonate with all members of the organization and help them feel proud, excited, and part of something much bigger than themselves. A vision should stretch the organization’s capabilities and image of itself. It gives shape and direction to the organization’s future. Visions range in length from a couple of words to several pages. I recommend shorter vision statements because people will tend to remember their shorter organizational vision.
"Year after year, Westin and its people will be regarded as the best and most sought after hotel and resort management group in North America." (Westin Hotels)
"To be recognized and respected as one of the premier associations of HR Professionals." (HR Association of Greater Detroit)
Your personal vision for your life can be as simple as a couple of words or as lengthy as 200 or more items you want to attain or accomplish. Your personal vision statement guides your life. Your personal vision statement provides the direction necessary to guide the course of your days and the choices you make about your career. Your personal vision statement is the light shining in the darkness toward which you turn to find your way. Your personal vision statement illuminates your way.
Obviously, I am a huge fan of personal vision statements. Write your personal vision statement as the first step in focusing your life - for your joy, your accomplishments, your contribution, your glory, and for your legacy.
Use these questions to guide your thoughts.
What are the ten things you most enjoy doing? Be honest. These are the ten things without which your weeks, months, and years would feel incomplete.
What three things must you do every single day to feel fulfilled in your work?
What are your five-six most important values?
Your life has a number of important facets or dimensions, all of which deserve some attention in your personal vision statement.
Write one important goal for each of them: physical, spiritual, work or career, family, social relationships, financial security, mental improvement and attention, and fun.
If you never had to work another day in your life, how would you spend your time instead of working?
When your life is ending, what will you regret not doing, seeing, or achieving?
What strengths have other people commented on about you and your accomplishments? What strengths do you see in yourself?
What weaknesses have other people commented on about you and what do you believe are your weaknesses?
Once you have thoughtfully prepared answers to these questions and others that you identify, you are ready to craft a personal vision statement. Write in first person and make statements about the future you hope to achieve. Write the statements as if you are already making them happen in your life. Some experts recommend 50 words or less, but I would rather see you fully articulate the vision you want for your life and your future, than be limited by word count.
Motivational speaker and writer, Brian Tracy, states that you generally accomplishment your written goals, dreams, plans, and vision. Writing them down lends power and commitment to their accomplishment.
Keep in mind that your personal vision statement can also change over time, depending upon what is happening in your life. You will be amazed, however, at how many components remain consistent over time. I first articulated this vision for my life in 1984; this personal vision statement guides my life.
Mission or Purpose is a precise description of what an organization does. It should describe the business the organization is in. It is a definition of “why” the organization exists currently. Each member of an organization should be able to verbally express this mission.
Additionally, each person needs a mission for his or her life. The alignment of your life mission with your organization’s mission is one of the key factors in whether you are happy with your work and workplace. If they are incongruent, you are likely dissatisfied with your work choice.
"Our goal is simply stated. We want to be the best service organization in the world." (IBM)
"FedEx is committed to our People-Service-Profit Philosophy.
We will produce outstanding financial returns by providing totally reliable, competitively superior, global, air-ground transportation of high-priority goods and documents that require rapid, time-certain delivery." (Federal Express)
"To give ordinary folk the chance to buy the same thing as rich people." (Wal-Mart)
"Our mission is to earn the loyalty of Saturn owners and grow our family by developing and marketing U.S.-manufactured vehicles that are world leaders in quality, cost, and customer enthusiasm through the integration of people, technology, and business systems." (Saturn)
"In order to realize our Vision, our Mission must be to exceed the expectations of our customers, whom we define as guests, partners, and fellow employees.(mission) We will accomplish this by committing to our shared values and by achieving the highest levels of customer satisfaction, with extraordinary emphasis on the creation of value. (strategy) In this way we will ensure that our profit, quality and growth goals are met." (Westin Hotels and Resorts)
Values are traits or qualities that are considered worthwhile; they represent an individual’s highest priorities and deeply held driving forces. (Values are also known as core values and as governing values; they all refer to the same sentiment.)
Value statements are grounded in values and define how people want to behave with each other in the organization. They are statements about how the organization will value customers, suppliers, and the internal community. Value statements describe actions which are the living enactment of the fundamental values held by most individuals within the organization.
The values of each of the individuals in your workplace, along with their experience, upbringing, and so on, meld together to form your corporate culture. The values of your senior leaders are especially important in the development of your culture.
These leaders have a lot of power in your organization to set the course and environment and they have selected the staff for your workplace.
If you think about your own life, your values form the cornerstones for all you do and accomplish. They define where you spend your time, if you are truly living your values. Each of you makes choices in life according to your most important four – ten values. Why not take the time to identify what is most important to you and to your organization.
Effective organizations identify and develop a clear, concise and shared meaning of values/beliefs, priorities, and direction so that everyone understands and can contribute. Once defined, values impact every aspect of your organization. You must support and nurture this impact or identifying values will have been a wasted exercise. People will feel fooled and misled unless they see the impact of the exercise within your organization. If you want the values you identify to have an impact, the following must occur.
People demonstrate and model their values in action in their personal work behaviors, decision making, contribution, and interpersonal interaction.
Organizational values help each person establish priorities in their daily work life.
Values guide every decision that is made once the organization has cooperatively created the values and the value statements.
Rewards and recognition within the organization are structured to recognize those people whose work embodies the values the organization embraced.
Organizational goals are grounded in the identified values. Adoption of the values and the behaviors that result is recognized in regular performance feedback.
People hire and promote individuals whose outlook and actions are congruent with the values.
Only the active participation of all members of the organization will ensure a truly organization-wide, value-based, shared culture.
The following are examples of values: ambition, competency, individuality, equality, integrity, service, responsibility, accuracy, respect, dedication, diversity, improvement, enjoyment/fun, loyalty, credibility, honesty, innovativeness, teamwork, excellence, accountability, empowerment, quality, efficiency, dignity, collaboration, stewardship, empathy, accomplishment, courage, wisdom, independence, security, challenge, influence, learning, compassion, friendliness, discipline/order, generosity, persistence, optimism, dependability, flexibility.
Although important aspects of your life and attention, these are not values: family, church, professionalism. If you define what you value about each of these, you are identifying the core value. As an example, the core value in family might be close relationships; in church, spirituality.
Use this additional list of values as a thought-starter for your values identification process. Read the two articles in the sidebar to this article are also useful in identifying values and making them live in your organization and life.
Want to see samples of values and value statements? These give you an idea of the depth and breadth in which organizations write their values. Search online for values and value statements and you'll find some that stretch to several pages, too.
"To preserve and improve human life." (Merck)
At Merck, "corporate conduct is inseparable from the conduct of individual employees in the performance of their work. Every Merck employee is responsible for adhering to business practices that are in accordance with the letter and spirit of the applicable laws and with ethical principles that reflect the highest standards of corporate and individual behavior...
"At Merck, we are committed to the highest standards of ethics and integrity.
We are responsible to our customers, to Merck employees and their families, to the environments we inhabit, and to the societies we serve worldwide. In discharging our responsibilities, we do not take professional or ethical shortcuts. Our interactions with all segments of society must reflect the high standards we profess." (Read more: (Merck)
Patriot Ledger (SouthofBoston.com): "We have a total commitment to these values, shaping the way we do business for our employees, our customers and our company.
Our employees are the most valued assets of our company, essential participants with a shared responsibility in fulfilling our mission.
We recognize that the quality, motivation and performance of our employees are the key factors in achieving our success.
"Accordingly, our Human Resources policies and practices are built on:
Dedication to assisting every employee in reaching his or her full potential in both performance and reward.
Commitment to diversity, equal opportunity and fair treatment.
Promotion based on merit, and from within whenever possible.
We want our organizational structure and culture to promote employee involvement, open communication, teamwork and cooperation."
Strategies are the broadly defined four or five key approaches the organization will use to accomplish its mission and drive toward the vision. Goals and action plans usually flow from each strategy. One example of a strategy is employee empowerment and teams. Another is to pursue a new worldwide market in Asia. Another is to streamline your current distribution system using lean management principles.
A university Human Resources Development department established several broad strategies for growth. These included becoming the training and education resource of choice for all employees by offering one-stop access to any and all existing education and training resources. Additionally, they determined key strategies for expanding their funding base and moving courses online for customer convenience.
A Human Resources department devised strategies to develop a superior workforce.
These included eliminating poor performers; hiring from several choices of excellent candidates, not just "settling" on a candidate; developing succession planning; and increasing training and cross-training opportunities.
"The Human Resource Association of Greater Detroit's (HRAGD) efforts to advance its mission will include: The promotion of voluntary member interchange, observance of ethical and professional standards, the conduct of meetings and workshops on relevant human resources topics and issues, communication of our purpose and activities to the broader business community, cooperation with the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), as well as, other SHRM professional and student chapters and related Human Resources organizations and the community involvement of our membership. The Association regularly publishes newsletters throughout the year which cover items such as monthly meeting highlights, future programs, Executive Board announcements, SHRM and legislative updates and general human resources news. In addition, a Membership Directory and member skills listing are published."
The San Antonio Express News developed these strategies.
"EXPAND our customer base and enhance the franchise by pursuing multimedia opportunities.
DELIVER an award-winning level of journalistic excellence, building public interest, trust and pride.
PROVIDE vigorous community leadership and support.
INSTILL an environment of internal and external excellence in customer service.
EMPOWER and recognize each employee's unique contribution.
ACHIEVE the highest standards of quality.
IMPROVE financial strength and profitability."
After you have developed the key strategies, turn your attention to developing several goals that will enable you to accomplish each of your strategies. Goals should be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based.
Once upon a time, in a business management world that seems more remote with every passing day, SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based goals) were enough to support business success. No more.
Just as the annual performance appraisal, tied to the year's accomplishments and the annual raise, is a dinosaur, so are SMART goals as traditionally defined in goal setting exercises. Now, don't misunderstand me. I believe in goal setting.
Goal setting is the foundation for personal and business success. It is time, however, in the business environment existing today, to expand the meaning of SMART goals. And, perhaps, one word per letter is no longer enough to define a useful acronym.
Stretch your imagination with me as we relook at the words that define successful goals in goal setting.
I'll start with S. In addition to specific, don't stretching, systematic, synergistic, significant and shifting round out the picture?
M means measurable, but I also recommend meaningful, memorable, motivating and even, magical.
A is an achievable goal but A also needs to stand for action plans, accountability, acumen and agreed-upon.
R means relevant, but it also stands for realistic, reasonable, resonating, results-oriented, rewarding, responsible, reliable, rooted in facts and remarkable.
T means time-based and it also represents timely, tangible and thoughtful.
So, do you need to desert SMART goals in the current work environment? Not at all. But, you definitely need to expand their meaning if the goal-defining acronym, SMART, is to serve you well in the current and upcoming business climate.
Events in the workplace are moving faster and faster. To stay competitive, you must shift direction, based on customer requirements, sometimes daily. Your goals need the same flexibility. In a performance management system, this is why goals are reviewed, at least, quarterly. Hop on the new SMART goals express, because as Alice said to the proverbial Cheshire Cat, "'Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?'
'That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,' said the Cat.
`I don't much care where--' said Alice.
`Then it doesn't matter which way you go,' said the Cat."
In today's competitive business climate, it DOES matter which way you go. The redefined SMART goals WILL help you get there.
Once you have enabled strategy accomplishment through setting SMART goals, you will want to develop action plans to accomplish each goal. Continuing with HRAGD as the example, to offer a quarterly seminar, you will need to follow an action plan:
Establish a cross section of professionals as a committee and meet to plan the sessions.
Perform HRAGD member needs assessment.
Select topics based on member needs assessment.
Locate exceptional speakers.
Pick speaker and negotiate workshop length, pay, topic and objectives.
Determine location and schedule the seminar.
Plan advertising strategies, and so forth.
Make action plans as detailed as you need them to be and integrate the individual steps into your planning system. An effective planning system, whether it uses a personal computer, a paper and pen system, a handheld computer or a Palm, will keep your goals and action plans on track and on target.
Want to be one of the organizations, whose employees understand the mission and goals, that enjoy a 29 percent greater return than other firms? Involve as many people as you can in charting the road map I've shared with you for developing a strategic framework for your business. And you will enjoy the greater return. With your vision, mission, values, strategies, goals and action plans developed and shared, you'll all win, both personally and professionally.