What Are Your Reasons For Work?

Like many business owners, one of my favorite blogs is Seth Godin’s blog. In today’s blog, Seth defined the Eight Reasons to work:

Reasons to Work:

  1. For the money
  2. To be challenged
  3. For the pleasure/calling of doing the work
  4. For the impact it makes on the world
  5. For the reputation you build in the community
  6. To solve interesting problems
  7. To be part of a group and to experience the mission
  8. To be appreciated

Review the above list and think about how you feel with each reason. What ignites your energy? Is it to be challenged, to be part of a group and to experience the mission or is it to solve interesting problems?

Once you identify the reasons for work that resonate with you. Begin to create a business plan that is in alignment with the work you want to do.

Resolve to do something every day that moves you toward your major goal. By focusing on the reasons behind your plan, you will be more focused and disciplined in achieving your goal.

I would like to hear from you. What are the barriers and challenges that keep you from doing work that is in alignment with your most important reasons for work?

Mission, Vision and Values: Do I Need All Three?

In a previous post I wrote about the importance of developing a unified vision for helping an organization to achieve accelerated and profitable growth. A lawyer from London who read the article asked:

"What is the difference between vision, mission and values, what does each component do and why do you need all of them?"

The terms mission, vision and values have become over used words and often are confused with old fashion strategic planning retreats where hours and even days are spent word-smithing a mission statement that is never looked at again. Many times the words are interchanged causing more confusion over the benefit for creating a mission, vision and value statement.

The Following provides a brief overview of Mission, Vision and Values and why you need all three:

Definitions

Mission: Mission or purpose is the reason for the firm or organizations existence. It answers the question, why do we exist? Another way to look at mission is to ask, what would happen if we disappeared?

Why do we need a mission? Mission is your raison d'etre, your "reason for being" and is what keeps the excitement and motivation in your work. Knowing the "why" behind the "what" is how you create focus, alignment and commitment in your organization.

We all want to be part of something that makes a difference and is deeper than making a profit. A strong "reason for being" is what allows you to achieve what others might view as impossible. It is what motivates ordinary people and organizations to achieve extra ordinary results.

Nelson Mandela comes to mind when I think of a person with a strong sense of purpose. His life has been dedicated to "the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities."

Similar to successful and extraordinary individuals, successful businesses also have a clearly defined mission statement. The mission of Google, one of the most successful companies in the 21st Century, is to "organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful."

Your mission statement will help your organization to attract the right clients, the right employees and help you to make decisions that are in alignment with your core purpose. Your mission will keep your organization focused on "why it exists" and provide inspiration, direction and motivation to pursue goals when inevitable obstacles get in the way.

Vision: Vision is a clear image of your desired future. Think Martin Luther King and his "I have a dream" speech. It is a picture of the future you seek to create. A statement of your vision shows everyone in your firm or organization where you want to go and what you will be like when you get there. Vision answers the question, what is the final result we want?

Why do we need vision? Vision paints a picture of what everyone agrees the organization will look like in the future. It gives shape and direction to the organization's future and helps people set goals and prioritize strategies for moving the organization closer to its desired results.

My favorite vision example is Henry Ford's vision to democratize the automobile. Ford wanted to build a motor car for the masses that everyone could afford. Imagine the power of this vision during the early 1900's when the primary means of transportation was horse and buggy.

Once you are clear on what your vision is, then you can make your vision a reality by focusing your plan on the strategies that are in alignment with the result you want to achieve.

Values: Values describe how we intend to operate, on a day-by day basis, as we pursue our vision. Values are best expressed in terms of behavior and are the guiding principles by which an organization operates. What do we do when no one is watching?

Why do we need to define values? Unlike a vision which can change, values never change and are the "rudder of the ship" helping an organization to make decisions and behave in a manner that is in alignment with what the organization stands for.

Imagine how different our economic situation would be if individuals, mortgage companies and banks defined and upheld the values that were most important. An overzealous vision without values can create catastrophic outcomes similar to Enron, Bernie Madoff, AIG and former Morgan Stanley executives jailed for stock loan fraud, etc.

In Summary, Mission is our "reason for being" and answers the question, why do we exist? Vision answers the question, what do we want to achieve? Values answer the question, what do we stand for?

Whether you are a lawyer in a law firm, a sole proprietor or a collaborative practitioner whose goal is to attract more desirable clients , knowing what your vision, mission and values are will lay the ground work for achieving extraordinary results.

I have been helping businesses and law firms to achieve extraordinary results by facilitating the creation of mission, vision and values for over twenty years. Please contact me if you have questions or would like more information on how to create your firms vision and mission.

Why Strategic Vison and Mission are Key to Achieving Accelerated Growth

Last week I received a question asking me, "What is the best way to help people find the switch to illuminate the light bulb in their heads about the crucial need for vision, mission and values?"

This is a common question I receive from Law firms, Collaborative groups, and businesses. For some reason, the thought of creating a strategic vision and mission is counter intuitive to professionals who want to accelerate the growth of their practice in a difficult economic climate.

The instinct is to go out and start “doing” an activity or even worse to respond or react to an event of “special marketing offer” that requires an immediate decision.

Accelerated results come from the power of a group or firm to work in unison toward a shared vision. It is similar to an elite group of rowers whose power comes from the synchronicity of each person working together. Speed and power is achieved by rowing in unison in the same direction. If one person is out of sync the whole group’s ability to succeed is challenged. If a few people are rowing out of sync, the results can be disastrous.

This is true in organizations and law firms, for example, before I conducted a strategic planning retreat for a collaborative law group, the organization had 12 committees all working in different and sometimes opposite directions. Board members had different opinions of what were they thought were the high priority activities for the organization. This created tension among board members and even worse reduced the efficiency of limited and valuable human and financial resources. The organizations members were questioning the value of their membership and getting frustrated with the lack of results they were seeing.

The group participated in a in two day retreat that was preceded by interviews and targeted strategic assignments for board members. In the retreat, the board clarified the purpose of the group which put everyone on the same page as to “why” the organization existed.

This lively discussion allowed everyone to listen and convey what they believed was the reason for the organizations existence. The value from this process was not just in coming up with a great mission statement; the value came from the dialogue and mutual understanding of the companies reason for being.

Once everyone was in alignment with the purpose for the organization, they were able to move forward and create a shared vision about what they wanted the organization to achieve.

After defining the vision and mission, the group efficiently and effectively developed a plan to translate their vision into results. The energy of the group was ignited because the retreat discussion was focused on the organizations most important results. An action plan was created and is now used as a road map for prioritizing agenda items at every board meeting. The plan is being followed and the group has experienced breakthrough results.

It is difficult to answer the question about illuminating the light bulb on the value of vision. However, my response would be, it is not what the vision is... it is what vision does. Optimal results are achieved when everyone in your team knows where they want to go (clarifies what success looks like) and are in alignment on how to get there. In other words, they are all rowing in the same direction.

Let me know if you are part of a team that is rowing in different directions. I will provide you with some ideas on how to get everyone working towards a common goal.