Vision, Purpose, Mission

Marilyn SanfordsmartPRENEUR Blog Series

“We shall not cease from exploration / And the end of all our exploring / Will be to arrive where we started / And know the place for the first time. “ 

T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

Core Values

“Companies that enjoy enduring success have core values and a core purpose that remain fixed while their business strategies and practices endlessly adapt to a changing world”.  by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras Building Your Company’s Vision, Harvard Business review

What is your vision, your purpose and your mission?  These can be old, tired questions. Sometimes it feels like a well worn road. Perhaps you ask, why bother? Will it make a difference?  There’s limited time in a day with lots to do including clients to serve or find, bankers to meet, employees to manage.   It’s true, running a small business is intense, stressful and complex.  Especially one as detail oriented as Custom Installation.  

If you are committed to excellence, being the best in your market, doing this work is important.  More and more, people are looking to join firms who are willing to invest the time and energy to really articulate their purpose; who are committed to being the best.     And there are lots of resources to lean on and help guide you through this.  There is an energy that grows in your team, and is felt by your channels and your clients, when everyone is aligned, committed and engaged.  Having a common purpose, does just that.

Why? What? How?

There are three questions to be explored: why, what, and how.   I watched several YouTube videos to stimulate my thinking on this.   David Burkus’  Vision, Mission, Purpose was a good investment, for under 8 minutes of my time.

Succinctly stated: Vision answers ‘What’ your company will look like once you’ve accomplished your goal.  Mission answers ‘How’ you will get there.  This triggers a commitment to the activities you will undertake to accomplish the vision, articulated through your strategy and plan.  Purpose ignites the team through ‘Why’ all of this is being undertaken.  This is why your company exists, the opportunities, the ‘injustices that you are righting”.   ‘It is a declarative statement which could start with your founding story.   It’s the glue that connects your team in an emotional, heartfelt way that is meaningful, applicable and doable for every employee’.

Vision could be as simple as:  To right bad installations. When I started in 1992, I had a vision,  that we could make living with technology in our homes a gateway to simplicity, security as well as beauty and enjoyment.   Over the years, our vision,  helped us distill our purpose ‘we use technology to simplify living’, and over time our tagline became “The Art of Technology”.   Art covered beauty and enjoyment, it was a contradiction in terms alongside technology.  This caused pause and reflection. Twenty to thirty years ago, technology was not warmly embraced, especially in our homes.  Our cars embraced technology far more than did our homes.   However, with a vision that we could use technology to simplify living, we all felt purpose; both our commitment and engagement grew.  Our clients felt this, and it helped us educate and attract business.  

A Team Effort

A good practice and a great way to get started (and perhaps to find clarity), is to ask your team.  Give them a task: in a few sentences, write what you think our purpose is?  Why are we here?  Maybe call a meeting, have them write on ‘post it’ notes, what they believe your firm is all about, one per note.  I had a colleague years ago, who believed the only purpose was making money.   This will not ignite, unite or commit your team.  And how many ways can a business or person make money?  It is not a purpose rather it is a result.  Having an engaged team creates an energy that can be magic in a company.  Interestingly, it does some of the work for you.  

Today’s workforce is looking for more than a job.  They want purpose and engagement.  Your job, as a leader, is to create an environment that gets the most out of your team, that creates a synergy in your company that is more than the sum of the parts.   This will connect your employees to purpose, and create engagement beyond work hours, or pay, helping them get in touch with their own potential.   

I saw members of my staff, find solutions and take on projects that really enhanced our offerings.  I watched their engagement and expression of purpose.  I believe this engagement grew from the common goal and consistent focus on our values, vision and purpose.

That said, I’m going to leave you with one parting thought.   Below is an excerpt from an interesting article which you can find here.  

“Organizations today must find alignment between their corporate strategy and their corporate culture, or risk never fulfilling their competitive advantage. Instead of fads or media narratives, leaders must follow their own choices and trade-offs in order to cultivate a unique culture; doing for culture what Michael Porter once described for strategy: ‘deliberately choosing to be different’.”  

About the Author

Marilyn Sanford

Marilyn is a Professional Accountant. She spent 23 years running trade based businesses, offering Low Voltage Custom Integration solutions to demanding and discriminating customers for high end residences and businesses. She has served on boards, taught in her Industry and is a Fellow of the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association (CEDIA). Marilyn Co—founded Smart fx in 1992, merged with La Scala in 2000 and later acquired LaScaIa in 2007. Over the years running a custom installation business, she learned what it takes to run a profitable business dependent on construction timelines. These insights and lessons learned, delivering ‘skilled labour’ as a primary service offering, were the seeds that grew the LincEdge concept.