You may think you’re a pretty good communicator. B ut, have you clearly communicated the purpose of your organization so everyone in your company can recite it?
Communication is a critical ingredient of business success and we all probably think we’re pretty good at it. We can walk, talk, dictate, speak and even string together a few intelligible sentences.
We chat with our troops, talk to our customers and vendors, share information with colleagues and shareholders. We hold meetings, BBQ’s and off-sites to talk about what’s going on.
We’re all pretty good communicators … aren’t we?
What exactly is Communication?
The inimitable Mr. Webster focuses on the transmission of thoughts and ideas, as if the means of communicating, or the act itself, constitutes “communication”.
Yet, when you peruse a thesaurus for synonyms, you get words like
interchange, as well as
When you think of advisement and transmission, it’s more about talking than conversing, while with connection” and conversation, you expect a collaborative, two-way exchange.
Is it Talking or Conversing?
President Reagan was known as the “Great Communicator” precisely because he could capture the essence of the point he wanted to make in clean, simple language that connected with people on an emotional level. His delivery was smooth and practiced and Americans always thought they knew where he stood.
In President Reagan’s farewell address to the nation, he acknowledged the mantle of the “Great Communicator” but said “I never thought it was my style or the words I used that made a difference: it was the content. I wasn’t a great communicator but I communicated great things … . “
Do You Have a Clearly Communicated Vision?
In thinking about communicating great things, you’ve probably heard many times that your company should have a Vision and/or Mission statement. (In fact, many would agree that President Reagan mastered what his Vice President George H.W. Bush called the “vision thing”.)
Here are two examples of Mission statements from well-known companies:
“Outstanding service and solutions through dedication and excellence.”
“Guided by relentless focus on our five imperatives, we will constantly strive to implement the critical initiatives required to achieve our vision. In doing this, we will deliver operational excellence in every corner of the Company and meet or exceed our commitments to the many constituencies we serve. All of our long-term strategies and short-term actions will be molded by a set of core values that are shared by each and every associate.”
[pullquote]When planning for a year, plant corn. When planning for a decade, plant trees. When planning for life, train and educate people. ~ Chinese Proverb[/pullquote]
Who Are These Companies?
There’s nary a clue about the identity of those companies, is there?
These are not very good examples of communication because they are either too “Mom and apple pie”, or dance between pomposity and verbosity, as in the second example. They’re innocuous and impersonal, and while they may sound righteous, they stand for nothing.
Vision and Mission statements are generally derived in a conversation about the “purpose” of your company.
Why are we here?
What are we trying to accomplish?
How will people remember us when we’re gone? Will they?
It’s about you, digging deep to focus on why you’re coming to work each day and busting it from dawn until dusk.
Can Anyone in Your Company Recite Your Vision Statement?
Like Indiana Jones chasing the Holy Grail, some business consultants are obsessed with Vision and Mission Statements.
While they can serve as cornerstones of the foundation upon which the company’s Strategy is based, their value is in direct proportion to the breadth and depth of the strategic conversation about what’s really important and what differentiates their view of the world.
In simple terms, a Vision Statement seeks to “communicate” the core values and purpose of an organization, and looks to the future, to “what is possible” rather than “what is”. It’s more about inspiration than perspiration.
The Mission Statement says exactly what you do – NOW – and like a good “elevator speech”, can be recited in the time it takes you to get from the 1st to the 10th floor. It should use clear, muscular language to tell people succinctly “who you are” and “what you do”.
Can You Identify These Companies?
“We fulfill dreams through the experience of motorcycling, by providing to motorcyclists and to the general public an expanding line of motorcycles and branded products and services in selected market segments.”
“People love our clothes and trust our company. We will market the most appealing and widely worn casual clothing in the world. We will clothe the world.”
These make a lot more sense, don’t they?
And, it’s not too hard to see the mission of Harley-Davidson or Levi Strauss in these words. Contrarily, did you correctly identify Hughes Supply and Albertson’s in the earlier two examples?
Here are 3 Rules of Thumb that might help:
Stop revising your Vision and Mission statements when you can post them on the walls throughout the company and be as proud of them tomorrow as you are today.
Stop when no one snickers when they read them; everyone in the company understands them, can recite them and embraces them as the embodiment of what they’re doing.
Customers, vendors and shareholders clearly understand what you do and why you’re here, and see that consistently throughout the organization.
Question: What is Your Company’s Vision or Mission Statement? Will we recognize you from it? You can easily add your comment below, or by visiting our Facebook Page or @Exkalibur on Twitter. I visit them every day and look forward to discussing these ideas and concepts with you.