If you were planning to build a colony on Mars, you’d have a pretty elaborate strategy. You’d need some physics expertise to figure out the right trajectory to avoid blowing up upon exiting earth’s atmosphere. You may determine that the only way to get to Mars is to slingshot around the moon. You’d have to build a rocket to launch you into space. It would have to house cargo and a cabin for the planet’s first settlers.
Then you’d have to plan for all that could go wrong while the spacecraft—designed to detach from the rocket, of course—makes the months-long voyage. And, what about when you get there? Landing safely, setting up camp, dealing with extreme temperatures, storms…
“Keep dreaming” is the sentiment you get from the majority of your network, while a small subset says, “Go for it!” How soon could you get to Mars? Let’s say you like to move fast. How about 10 years? That sounds about right. Awesome! Now you have a vision: We’ll be the first settlers to colonize on Mars and will land the first colony in 10 years.
Let’s say you have this strategy with the mother of all BHAGs (big, hairy, audacious goals). How do you build a company and align a team to do it?
Assuming that cash is not an issue, you could simply start hiring the world’s best engineers and physicists. But what about your goal? If you hired the best folks from academia, would they be conditioned to move fast, make mistakes, rapidly iterate on plans, and pivot when necessary? A disciplined talent optimization strategy will definitely set you up for success in aligning the right team design, leadership abilities, and culture with your strategy.
A big question looms…
To get to Mars you’ll have to build a large company. Many people will be involved. And to maintain the break-neck speed you desire, you’ll have to rely on others to make the best decisions, augment plans, and inspire people to create the best product. This will happen under your watch, but not necessarily under your dedicated supervision. How can you be sure that people are operating under the right principles? After all, this could spell life or death for your human cargo.
That’s when you realize that you’re not just doing this because you went to space camp every summer as a kid. The world is not getting any bigger. Hunger, water shortages, crisis…eventually, things will go sideways. Alas, your mission presents itself: To preserve the human race. It transcends your vision. It’s much bigger than Mars. It’s why you’re doing this. It’s why people will want to come and work for you. It’s how you’re going to change things forever. It’s your purpose.
Values can help you hold people accountable to a minimum behavioral standard and assure they will operate under the same principles.
You want to be sure that your team maintains a hold of the mission and vision and operates in the same way, with the same principles, regardless of how big it grows or how it evolves. So, you spend time talking with early team members, asking them what it takes to truly be part of the company. What do they think is needed for someone is to be successful at the company, and what makes the company different from others? Answers to questions like these will help you formalize the things your company values. Amazing work ethic, an eye for details, bite-size progress over big sweeping changes, fast-acting, about the brutal facts, accountable at all times—these values will allow your teams to self-regulate, hold each other accountable, and know a soft spot when they see it.
Are you ready for launch?
You have a solid plan. You have a mission that’s inspirational and filled with purpose. Your vision is forward-thinking and big enough to spark a movement. And, you have values that will keep the team together and working like a fine-tuned engine. You call a meeting to roll out your plan and share your mission, vision, and values. You invite team members to take these statements, make them their own, espouse the values, and do things across the company that evoke their meaning. You make a promise to hold yourself and others accountable to these guiding statements.
It’s time for launch. Mars, here we come!
Mission, vision, and values statements are critical to translating your business strategy into people-speak and creating alignment within your organization. Crafting these statements and using them at a strategic level is wildly valuable, but it’s not easy. How have you seen mission, vision, and values statements impact a business? What’s your company’s “Mars”?