There are hundreds of things that could possibly go wrong when you start your own thing. It surely is in the startup stage right now, but there is a clear difference between it growing big and dying out after a year. That difference is - The Vision.
For example, you putting the efforts with a constant motivation in your e-commerce business and then being successful at it depends on how you put it in a statement. Calling this as a mere 'statement' is an understatement though! You might want to sell stuff online to the maximum number of people possible with an online channel and want to book high profits, but that cannot be your vision. Amazon puts it in a clever way.
They strive to be "Earth's most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online."
Now the second statement is more closer to the WHY of the process. Once your why is clear, so will be the people working with you. This one statement helps you in the multitude of the business processes. From building your core team to hiring to customer support to the way you design your service to...
But remember, your vision statement is not your advertising campaign to just write larger than life phrases. Vision has to align people to some particular initiatives and efforts. When I was assigned to Project Management stuff at @Publicis.Sapient, the first thing I was asked to do is to articulate and summarize the core values of new Sapient brand when it got acquired by the advertising giant Publicis Groupe. In the process of writing that article, I was drawn more towards the reason of me working there. Monetary benefits are important for sure but not at the cost of zest behind the reason of working on something. And so the vision statement connects you to the rest of the circle your company stands for.
Here are some examples to help you understand:
As you could notice, each of these businesses directly address the WHY of their business existence!
But how do you come up with a vision statement?
It's pretty simple actually! Just imagine if your company stops existing, what problems would there no longer be solutions for? What will the world (or your set of customers) miss?
Vision creates a purpose which could be understood with your mission or tangible actions. Having a clear purpose also creates an environment where people can be more authentic, can actually develop themselves, take more responsibility, can take more risks because you’re doing it all in the context of your purpose, not just a specific role or a function.
Okay. I get it. But how to practically implement this vision and purpose?
The answer to this, there is a standard: Core Values!
If you want to streamline the processes in a better way so that everybody knows the why of it, there's no other way than incepting and practicing a culture with the core values around your vision. Core values are more like tangible steps which get you closer to your vision. Because when you think about it in the larger context of purpose, it brings more meaning to what you do.
Impact of having purpose and core values:
- Aligns everybody to focus on specific goal, creates common behaviour
- To see the outcome, we are getting, easier to achieve target when everyone is on the same page
- Why of everything we do (Purpose)
- Consistent behaviour for clients as well, our culture
- Purpose defines who we are, core values differentiate from others
- Ownership and accountability
How do I come up with the core values?
Core values should reflect the behaviour of people being seen on company floors (or within company people) every day, the way you communicate to your customers and how you analyse situations and make decisions. If you are a startup and don't have these company floors, then your core values should shout what you want to see within your people & processes when you get the floors 😋
For example, what do you think the values of a company should be whose vision is to organize and provide access to world's information with a click? And what exact statements would you come up with which enable you to create awesome internet products?
Here's the list of Google's 10 core values. Now, take a minute and let it sink in.
- Focus on the user and everything else will follow.
- It’s best to do one thing really, really well.
- Fast is better than slow.
- Democracy on the web works.
- You don’t need to be at your desk to need an answer.
- You can make money without doing evil.
- There’s always more information out there.
- The need for information crosses all borders.
- You can be serious without a suit.
- Great just isn’t good enough.
Are you able to connect all the statements to the purpose of Google's existence?
These values might seem abstract at this level, but trust me they're not. It takes wise leaders to come up with incredible ways to ease the abstract and practice a culture around it.
A more practical example from my own experiences:
Everything is changing, faster than ever. Right from mom & pop stores to big industry giants and from consumers’ buying habits to the ways to reach them, tech revolution is taking its toll on every small thing around. Organizations around the world need to evolve in order to address these changes. To fully leverage the business potential, processes and competencies these institutions need to focus on accelerating the use of digital technologies in order to have business impact in a strategic and prioritized way.
The sooner they adapt to these changes, the better they will be from the competition. The service based company I work for helps clients in their Digital Business Transformation journey. Thus, the purpose of P.S as a company is perfectly crafted in the message of helping people thrive in the brave pursuit of NEXT (Change)!
Now the core strength of any company providing some service to its customers is rightly identified by its people. Better the people are in terms of their skills, their deliveries, their communications and their satisfaction, the customers are better served. So, how do you address this with your values?
- Engaging with Openness
- Inclusive Collaboration
- Learning Mindset
- Partnering for Client Impact
- Embracing the Future
Although, these values seem segregated, one cannot be implied or implemented without the others. To thrive people for the betterment, we see these values as a single entity and try to attain the maximum of all.
Engaging with openness helps you share and seek ideas and dialogue openly to deepen understanding and connections with others when at the same time Inclusive Collaboration enables to Create space for multiple voices and integrate diverse perspectives to realize shared goals.
Learning Mindset gives the courage for questioning what we know to take risks and learn continuously to unlock the employee potential.
The Compassion for clients’ problems seeps in when we partner with them for extraordinary and long-term impact. At an assimilation of these, the company strives to generate possibilities and use the power of creativity and technology trends to innovate in ways that matter to customers by Embracing the Future.
To have a more tangible experience, you can set Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) on the top of this and measure your alignment on a yearly basis. For example in context mentioned in above example, one of the objectives could be 'to build an engineering capability within the company which rivals the best on the planet.'
The measurable Key Results for this could be - 'to train atleast XX% of your engineering team in new technologies by conducting regular learning programs' - 'To train top XX% of your direct and indirect managers on business outcomes they are supposed to deliver by next quarter.' And as you rightly guessed, this cultivation is happening under core value 3 mentioned above.
Hope this has started making the sense to you now!!
For startups, the way to go might be:
To clear up their vision statement -> defining the purpose -> setting up the culture around core values -> Defining tangible objectives -> measuring the results !!
On an ending note, I would like to emphasize on the difference this kind of culture creates in your day-to-day working. My first successful startup venture was named Organo-Light where we used to sell organic veggies and non-perishable eatables to our consumers. The roadmap from launch to exit was filled with awareness campaigns, WhatsApp MVPs, door to door try-out service, online and offline channels and a strong supply chain.
The only possible reason of us not breaking down within 6 months of operations was our vision: To help people eat healthy!
I am grateful if you made it till here. Thanks for reading 🤗