Creating a Vision and Mission Statement – Part 1

The following question was posted recently on GaryNorth.com

“Any suggestions on how to go about the process of defining where I’m going and what I’m doing with the site and with my career?”

Like any other complex endeavor in life, we realize the highest probability of success if we focus on requirements, and plan the work, and then work the plan.

Here are some suggestions. This will be in two parts:

1. Background information and definitions.

2. A development plan template.

Part One

Suggestion #1: Model the Relationship

One way to frame this issue, is to model both the areas of one’s life, and the areas of one’s employment, and map the relationship. This allows one to keep perspective and to subordinate efforts based upon importance. In your context, we can do that with two models:

Seven Ports of Life

There’s a management model known as the Seven Ports of Life. This model is a component of Harold S. Hook’s Model-Netics course. (www.Maineventmanagement.com) The purpose of this model is to help one understand the areas of their life wherein they spend their time/effort/resources. This allows one to put management of one’s life activities into perspective, based on those seven “ports.”

The seven ports are:

1. Job

2. Family

3. Religion

4. Civic

5. Health

6. Recreation

7. Self development

For the sake of minimizing confusion in what follows, I’ll call this Level One; it’s the level of one’s life; and the realm of your calling. Note that “job” includes all employment activities, such as a primary and any secondary employment, and one or more side businesses or other sources of income.

Seven Ports of Management

There’s another management model (from the same source) known as the Seven Ports of Management. The purpose of the model is to help managers focus on seven areas that affect management, and which management in turn affects. The seven ports are:

1. Employees

2. Shareholders

3. Customers

4. Community

5. Industry

6. Government

7. Vendors

I’ll call this Level Two; it’s one level down from one’s life, and represents the component parts of the job port of one’s life.

Note that although this model is titled the Seven Ports of Management, the model is easily adaptable as a general model of where time/energy/resources are spent with one’s job port of Level One.

The two models taken together can provide taxonomy perspective on the relationship of one’s life to one’s job and also one’s calling to one’s job. One way to consider both of these models, is to presume that the Seven Ports of Management (at Level Two) implements the job port in the Seven Ports of Life (Level One).

Viewing this in this manner allows keeping USPs, vision and mission from different levels in perspective.

The thing to do going forward, is to identify, list, sort, and associate individual functions and requirements to the various ports in the models. Doing this will, for example, visually indicate the components of “the job port.” (As a family, you and your spouse might do this exercise for each of the seven ports of Level One; and review it over time. You may find the exercise eye-opening.)

Suggestion #2: Determine the Vision

For planning purposes, the vision statement is the mental picture of the accomplished end, put down on paper as a succinct statement. It is short, precise, and to the point; perhaps a short paragraph. It should be precise and specific, as goals, objectives, and plans are derived from it, top-down; but, it remains a vision.

However, note that the vision statement is all about the end accomplishment, not the situation. (The situation being the beginning.) The vision statement is the imagined solution, not the original problem. In other words, the vision statement is a tool that accomplishes this for us: “Begin with the end in mind.” – Habit number two, Steven Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Seven_Habits_of_Highly_Effective_People>)

Visions statements differ from goals and objectives in that the former is a mental picture set down on paper, while the latter are SMART. (Or, should be if they’re to be effective.)

The vision statement is important as a record of what was originally envisioned, because what was originally envisioned drives all further planning. Without that record, planning and execution can and will drift away from what was envisioned, and may become ends in themselves.

Suggestion #3: Develop Requirements Top-Down

One view of the job port of the Seven Ports of Life (Level One), is to consider that the job is only necessary to fund the other six ports of life. (This is not strictly true, but for the sake of this particular issue it may help to view the job port in this manner.)

This means that there will be one or more requirements of Level One that will be met – satisfied – by your employment (your Job Port: Level Two). Requirements flow down. So the requirements flowing from Level One to subordinate Level Two are input to the subordinate vision and mission statements associated with Level Two. (Or, goal and objectives if that level doesn’t have vision and mission statements.) That is, the requirements flow to your career development plan, the purpose of which is to satisfy those requirements. From this perspective, you would not be incorrect to think of your career development plan as the plan for your job port.

The same process is applied to efforts that implement subordinate levels of the job port (i.e., levels below Level Two, such as each actual job or side business). The vision and mission statement of one’s website (call this Level Three) are developed to accomplish one or more objectives to satisfy the requirements coming from one’s Level Two (as documented in your career development plan.)

Level One requirements drive Level Two solutions, which in turn result in Level Two requirements going to Level Three, to be satisfied by Level Three. Top-down.

This general top-down flow of requirements flowing from higher levels down through intermediate levels, down to the lowest levels, is exactly the command-and-control model implemented by the military. It works exceedingly well; so much so, that from a process perspective, most 20 year old Infantry squad leaders can out-plan many first- and mid-level business managers.

The process is also implemented by business, but in a much less explicit fashion.

Suggestion #4: Write the Mission Statement(s)

There are two general uses of a mission statement.

First, mission statements define the purpose of an organization.

In business, mission statements usually only exist for the firm itself, not subordinate units. From this perspective, the mission statement is more of a purpose statement for the firm. Also in business, each component of an hierarchy could have a mission statement which reflects that component organization’s unique purpose, but this isn’t prevalent. For example, your controller organization probably does not have its own mission statement.

Second, the mission statement is a directive for action – a tasking statement.

This is the primary use of mission statements in the military. For example, paragraph 2 of a U.S. Army OPORD (operations order) states the specific mission – the tasking – to be accomplished by the unit receiving the order. In the military, mission statements flow frequently; to task component organizations to accomplish [whatever]. The tasking flows from the organization’s superior levels (i.e., coming down from the next higher level of the chain of command to each subordinate level in turn).

Tasking in business is accomplished via business requirements and associated directives flowing down the chain of command, and the implied mission (purpose) of each subordinate business unit is to meet common and unique requirements in context.

So, you get to decide how you want to use the mission statement: for purpose or for tasking; or, for both. I suggest that you use the mission statement as a statement of purpose, and implement action (i.e., tasking) with subsequent requirements stated as a goal and corresponding objectives, as is the common practice in business.

Assuming your web site is subordinate to your Level Two (Job), this means is that the “mission” of your web site (i.e., its purpose) will be to meet requirements flowing from your Level Two: your job port, which is implemented from your career development plan.

End of Part One…Part Two to follow.

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