Here’s a simple but powerful exercise:
- Put your company’s or your client’s key stakeholders in a room together. Have the person with the most senior title agree that it’s a safe place for the next hour or so. Like Switzerland.
- First ask everyone what their next year’s objectives are. Write them down.
- Next ask everyone what they’re measured by. What their compensation is tied to, what makes their boss happy, what empty cells in a spreadsheet await them at the end of every month. All of the above. Write it down even when their answer is, “I don’t know.”
- Then write the company’s current mission statement down in big type. Write their current advertising message down right under it.
- Spend the next 90 days (to infinity) dealing with the confusion and conflict you just made sorely visible.
A mission must be measurable. A message needs a reason. A job needs a purpose. An organization needs alignment (even if that alignment is to enable loose innovation).