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    June 29, 2023

    How to Scale Good Decision-Making and Empower Your Team with Mission, Vision, and Values

    Decisions are the currency of growth. They get traction. They set direction. We crick our necks looking up to the Fortune 500 and think, “How did you get up there?!” These businesses did not flourish because of one person or idea. Their journey and growth are the result of millions of decisions - good ones.

    Growth is not achieved by climbing straight up. Good decisions build on top of each other, one after another, over time. The more good decisions you make in a given period of time, the quicker a business grows. The goal of leadership is to increase the velocity of good decisions. 

    What makes a good decision anyway? It’s certainly in the eye of the beholder. For the context of this article, let’s define a “good decision” as one that yields excellent results, progress, and a great return on investment for the business.

    Growth, and therefore decision-making, is a team sport. It takes a great deal of accountability, vulnerability, and safety in knowing that if you make a call and it happens to be the wrong one, you’ll live to fight another day. There are many decision-making frameworks. 

    Did you know that the root of “decide” is to kill? Herbicide, pesticide. When making a decision, you are choosing to give one idea life while killing another. That is why the org chart hasn’t evolved over the last 100 years - it represents command and control over decisions. 

    So the question is, how can you increase good decision-making at scale while knowing you cannot be involved in or make every decision?

    One way to increase the number of good decisions is to increase the number of decisions in general. This thinking gave way to the “fail fast” cultures of silicon valley startups in the early 2000s. And, as we desired to increase the ratio of good decisions, it popularized the use of frameworks like objectives and key results (OKRs). These frameworks are nothing new and a mere attempt by upper management to scale decision-making while maintaining control.

    There’s a better way to scale good decision-making and align your company.

    Work is increasingly more distributed, decentralized, and asynchronous. Innovations in AI, robotics, and web3 will continue to shape this future of work. The most successful leaders have learned that we must grow beyond top-down command and control management to operate in this new future. This is achieved by creating a mindset within the company that values employee autonomy and collaboration. As a result, these companies are able to be more nimble and adapt in the face of adversity. They have turned how they work into a strategic differentiator. Their employees are not just working for a paycheck. They are passionate about the work that they do, and they are proud to be a member. This means that they are able to attract and retain top talent and deliver better results for their customers.

    This lifestyle play makes sense. As humans, we yearn to find work that identifies with our values and to be with those who share them. Identity is the lever for employee engagement, culture, and purpose. This explains why executives say helping employees find purpose ranks at the top of their list. It’s also no surprise why we focus on cultural transformation within our businesses.

    As humans, we yearn to find work that aligns with our values and to be with those who share them.


    Mission, vision, and values are the blueprint for scaling good decision-making and empowering leaders at all levels.

    Clearly defined, well-aligned, and communicated mission, vision, and values (MVV) give team members at all levels a blueprint for making decisions in the company's best interest. Although top-down goal-setting frameworks like objectives and key results (OKRs) can be helpful alignment tools, they do little to create a values-driven culture of autonomy and accountability. 

    Imagine a company where every employee can articulate the MVV, with a general passion for the impact the company hopes to have on the world and excitement about what the current vision will achieve over the next few years. At this company, leadership takes pride in espousing the values of the company. They even went as far as to create a rubric for the behaviors that support each value and are the most important for the company to progress toward its current vision. Also, these behaviors are regularly reinforced in meetings, ceremonies, celebrations, and performance reviews. Let’s call this Company A.

    Now, let’s imagine a company where the executive team has communicated a 24-month plan. The company has a mission statement that says something about “providing maximum value to our shareholders.” They have values like trust, integrity, and fun posted on their website. Employees generally get along, but departments typically stick to their swimlanes and execute plans communicated down from management. There’s an annual performance review process that does little more than set a merit increase in compensation. Let’s call this Company B. 

    When the market unexpectedly shifts or innovations emerge, which company would you bet on to tackle whatever obstacles come its way? In the event management couldn’t be available to make a critical decision, would you prefer to have a team from company A or B make that decision? 

    When MVV are understood and deliberately used, you increase the leverage of everyone involved. Below are definitions of mission, vision, and values and how they interact.


    Mission Vision Values Definitions Lever Talent


    What is a company mission?

    Your company’s mission states the impact your company hopes to have on the world. 

    It’s a brief, inspiring declaration of why your company exists and what it hopes to achieve. A good mission statement is clear, concise, and memorable.

    Here are some classic examples of company missions:

    Google: "To organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful."

    Nike: "To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. *If you have a body, you are an athlete."

    Apple: "To create the best products and services on earth, and to leave the world better than we found it."

    United Health Care: “To help people live healthier lives and helping make the health system work better for everyone.”

    Sweetgreen: “To inspire healthier communities.”

    IKEA: “To create a better everyday life for the many people.”

    Your employees, investors, and customers should look at your mission and feel like it is compelling enough to want to share it with others. In Simon Sinek's terms, your mission is your why. It’s your reason for being. 


    What is a company vision?

    Your vision sets the stage for the company's achievement over the next several years. It is a long-term, aspirational goal that is challenging but achievable. If realized, it is a giant step toward the mission. Your mission defines why you exist, and your vision defines what you will become.

    In the book Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, Jim Collins and Jerry Porras coined the term BHAG, an acronym for big hairy audacious goal. BEHAGs are essentially vision statements. Vision statements provide clarity on how the company plans to make a giant step forward toward its mission for the foreseeable future.

    Unlike the mission, the vision is timebound. It evolves. It sets the scope and direction for the company. When a team considers priorities or strategic objectives, they should be set up against the vision. 

    The best visions are crafted with the mission in mind and are the result of much team collaboration and deliberation. The best vision statements answer these questions:

    • How will your company make an impact on the world?
    • What unique value will you provide?
    • What abilities will you bring to bear that will make you stand out in your industry?

    Here are some examples of a well-crafted and scoped vision statement:

    • Amazon: “To be Earth's most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices.”
    • SpaceX: “To revolutionize space technology, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets.”
    • JP Morgan Chase: “To be the most respected financial services firm in the world, serving corporations and individuals in more than 100 countries.”
    • Tesla: “To create the most compelling car company of the 21st century by driving the world's transition to electric vehicles.”

    Think of your vision as a giant umbrella above your team. It is not too small that they can’t move. Not too large that they could get lost. It should be broad enough for your team members to move about while staying underneath it. This allows your company to progress while also exploring new opportunities for growth.


    What are corporate values?

    A company's culture is ultimately defined by what behaviors are rewarded and celebrated.

    “We have a strong culture and great values,” say most executives when I ask them to tell me about the culture at their company. Sadly, when asked the follow-up question, “Great, can you share your values with us?” Silence. “Oh…um…you had to put me on the spot. I think they are….” And they go on to make something up or explain away the fact that they can’t remember them. 

    Values like trust, integrity, and fun are essential. Still, the question is, will they inspire the most critical behavioral adaptations or changes to achieve your company mission, or are they general table stakes for being a human at work? 

    Values are the minimum required behaviors to work at your company. They are demanded of all employees at all levels. 

    There is only so much mental capacity and only so many values you can prioritize. At Lever Talent, we advise our clients to pick 3-5 values carefully. This can be tricky, so we work with them to create a list of the most critical behaviors that stand between their current company today and what it will be once their vision is complete. When analyzing the delta between the two, it makes way for what the most critical values are. 


    Where to find the best company values Lever Talent


    When is the right time to refine and change our company’s mission, vision, and values? 

    Since most businesses have some kind of mission, vision, purpose, or values statements, it’s common to ask when they should change, if at all. Below are some general rules of thumb.

    Should a mission statement change? A well-defined mission statement should stand the test of time. 

    Should a vision statement change? A vision should evolve over time as the company progresses toward realizing it. In general, your vision statements tend to look 10-20 years out, depending on how lofty they are. 

    Should company values change? As the company vision evolves, the minimum required behaviors, or values, should also evolve. 

    When is a good time to change my company’s mission, vision, and values? There are several moments when it is most common to refine or completely change the mission, vision, and values. 


    Here's when mission, vision, and values are typically refined or entirely changed.

    • Change in executive leadership: New leaders often set a new direction and scope for the company. Although this may not require the mission to change, it could impact the vision and the values.  
    • Mergers and acquisitions (M&A): When merging or acquiring a company, leadership is faced with the difficult decision of what parts of the culture to merge, acquire, or get rid of. 
    • Changing business phase: When moving from a start-up to a growth-stage company or a growth-stage to a mature-stage company, this is often a good time to revisit the expected behaviors and therefore refine the values. 
    • Change in strategy: Sometimes, market forces or existential threats emerge that require a company to pivot, shutter projects, or reduce scope. Like a shock to the system, sometimes these changes will require a detour. It can be helpful in these instances to refine the vision and values if only for an interim period, to keep the team aligned.


    Who should own the company’s mission, vision, and values? 

    The short answer to the question of who should own the company’s mission, vision, and values is everyone. It’s up to leaders at all levels to continuously communicate and define the mission and vision and espouse the values. That said, and tactically speaking, it’s up to the executive leadership team to drive the definition and adoption of the MVV. 

    Mission, vision, and values are intrinsically linked to the brand and the team. So, if any one person or department owns the mission, vision, and values, it’s quite common for the head of Human Resources and the head of Marketing to partner up on ownership, communication, and education of them.


    How to define or refine your company’s mission, vision, and values. 

    At Lever Talent, we deploy a process called CAMP to get companies started or restarted on their MVV journey. 

    Craft a vision: You must first align as a leadership team to align on your general direction and tone. Get the leadership team together to share initial thoughts, feelings, and desires. This typically gets the mission pretty well set and a vision drafted. 

    Align the team: Once you have a mission and drafted vision, it’s important to assess the current culture and team dynamics and take stock of current thinking and how that thinking has to change to accomplish your vision. It’s in this stage in the process that the vision becomes pretty well-scoped, and needed behaviors start to take shape.

    Map to values: This is where you select behaviors that are best aligned with the mission and vision and that address the needed adaptations between the current company and the vision. Hosting team focus groups across the company to get feedback on the mission and vision and phrasing ideas for the values is a great way to refine and make sure your team feels included in the process. 

    Plan ahead: This is where you set an activation plan for your MVV, including an initial kickoff campaign, training, etc. Then it’s a constant process for the leadership team going forward. The most successful companies will work MVV components into incentive plans, performance reviews, office decor, awards, and ceremonies to keep teams aligned and inspired. 

    Increase the velocity of good decision-making, keep your teams aligned, and inspire them to greatness with mission, vision, and values. 

    Lean into your mission, vision, and values, and you’ll open up endless possibilities for your company and team members.

    At Lever Talent, we work with leaders to define or refine their mission, vision, and values and design activation plans that create highly engaged and performing companies. Accelerate the velocity of good decisions, grow your company, and set your teams free with MVV - book an MVV strategy session with Lever Talent.

    Drew Fortin

    Drew is a people-first, values-driven leader with nearly 20 years of growth strategy and team-building experience across retail, marketing technology, local media, and HR tech. He spent 7 years at The Predictive Index, where he was Chief Growth Officer responsible for the company's strategy to build the world's first...

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