Big Red Car here. Going to be a nice day here in the ATX. Bit cool this morning but this is one of the best times of the year — cool mornings, delightful warm afternoons. Enjoy it. This is why folks live in Texas. On Earth as it is in Texas, ya’ll. It’s more than a slogan.
So The Boss is up early this morning to have coffee with one of his CEO friends. A successful startup entrepreneur and they get to talking about The Boss’s current focus on Vision, Mission, Strategy, Tactics, Objectives, Values, Culture.
I know you’ve seen it here. I ‘splained the Vision Statement yesterday. You know, That Vision Thing — Read about it here. <<< click on link
Simple but essential? You decide
Sometimes folks think The Boss’s approach is a bit simplistic but sometimes not.
The serial entrepreneur was laughing and said: “I got down to the Vision, Mission, Strategy, Tactics, Objectives, Values, Culture thing on my first company — just about the time I sold it. The second time around, I did it all before I even really finished the wire frame. I learned it was essential to communicating with my team. More importantly it crystallized my thinking. It helped me more than it helped my team. Today I would do it all before I even finalized my thinking. Because some of it I would just duplicate — values, culture, in particular.”
The Boss made him pay for the coffee. The Boss had a latte and latte’s are more expensive than regular coffee. The Boss enjoyed his latte but he enjoyed his friend’s comments more.
The planning continuum
In much the same way that an Army Ranger learns about the Five Paragraph Field Order that is issued before each and every operation even when in the field:
Command and signal
the planning continuum informs a business and its team as to the overall scheme and plan. The business has a longer time frame in which to cover the planning continuum and thus its plans are more complete and perhaps a bit detailed.
Make no mistake, the necessity to plan is critical and the probability of success in a nimble, agile and lean operating environment is greatly impacted by the quality of the plan, in particular, the demonstrated depth of thinking, the experience incorporated and the testing that it has endured.
This may be why serial entrepreneurs are so much more successful than entrepreneurial virgins — they understand the necessity for planning prior to execution.
Vision Statement with a night’s sleep
Yesterday we spoke a bit about crafting the Vision Statement. It is not rocket science but it takes a few minutes and you may want to visit it a few times before you go get the tattoo. It is hard to change the tattoo, so be sure you have what you want before the tattoo artist turns his needles on. Get a sketch first?
Yesterday we modeled a couple of Vision Statements — one was obviously from a web based retail platform in a particular industry — and let’s focus on one of those here:
By the end of 2016, ABC Company, through its cutting edge ecommerce platform, will become the acknowledged leader and dominant brand in the XXXXXX industry, a category killer with over $500MM in annual revenue and a 10% net profit margin.
After the CEO of ABC Company slept on it, it was modified to read as follows:
By the end of 2017, ABC Company will develop the largest community of XXXXXX enthusiasts numbering in excess of 1MM customers and through its cutting edge ecommerce platform, will become the acknowledge leader and dominant brand in the XXXXXX industry, a category killer with over $500MM in annual revenue and a 10% net profit margin.
So, having slept on it, the founder of ABC Company extended the applicable time period and also included the notion of developing a very large community of enthusiasts in the applicable industry. This looks like an excellent vision.
Big Red Car particularly likes that the CEO of ABC Company has focused on the size of his customer base and the notion that he is building a community not just a database. This is good thinking.
Let’s get over to the tattoo parlor before anyone changes anything, no?
Vision begets Mission
With the Vision Statement freshly tattooed on his left thigh, upside down so he can read it — it’s time for the CEO to get down to the Mission Statement.
First pass, here is what the CEO came up with:
Honorable professionals dedicated to:
1. creating the largest community of XXXXXX enthusiasts — 1MM strong — in the XXXXXX industry;
2. developing and operating a cutting edge web based retail platform with extraordinary technology and an exquisite and satisfying customer experience;
3. delivering to our community the broadest offering of the highest quality merchandise from the best global brands at the best value;
4. becoming the largest retailer — category killer — in the XXXXXX industry with annual sales in excess of $500MM;
5. operating a profitable business with a 10% net profit margin; and,
6. delivering meaningful value to our shareholders and stakeholders;
while having fun and challenging and disrupting how business is conducted in the XXXXXX industry.
So, what do you think? Bit wordy? Maybe a fair criticism but the Big Red Car when balancing clarity and comprehension with succinctness or brevity will always err a bit on the side of being clear and comprehensible. Big Red Car kind of thing, perhaps.
Anyway, this is a first pass and can be refined as it is reviewed, critiqued and improved.
Nothing to see here, move along
In any event, the Mission Statement takes the planning process on the next step toward completion. It is also emerging from the exclusive lair of the founder/CEO to include others. Once we start to delve into strategy, tactics and objectives we are into more management functions and while the founder cannot ignore these important building blocks they are not as dear a reflection of his DNA and vision. They are more tools of implementation.
Get the Vision and Mission right and the rest of it will fall into place more easily. And, the folks who will actually have to execute the plans will own them more directly having had their hands on the hammer and chisel which fashioned them.
So mull it over a bit and think about it and we will get to the Strategy, Tactics, Objectives, Values and Culture shortly.
But, hey, what the Hell do I know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car but I live in the ATX — on Earth as it is in Texas.