Lack of Structure Won’t Kill a Company: but Lack of Vision/Mission Will
If you are a super busy person, you don't need to read any further. The body of this post is just expanding on the idea/origin of the title.
The origin of this thought.
Yesterday I saw this tweet from Isaac Morehouse that really caught my interest.
We went back and forth on it a few times which got me thinking more. When I was riding the subway home, the words Mission and Vision kept nagging at me. I kept thinking about my two most similar, but also starkly different work experiences which is what prompted the title of this post.
Let’s dig into the similarities of these two organizations first, and then we will discuss the differences.
A tale of two companies.
Both companies have been around for about the same length of time. Both organizations have the capital to grow. Both organizations operate in a market where there is plenty of potential clients. And finally, both organizations are run by people (one is co-founded, and one is run by one man).
Here are the differences.
The first company, a marketing firm I worked for was characterized by unstructured days, confusion, and lack of general motivation.
The second company, the recruitment firm I work for currently, is characterized by days filled with focused work, long hours, and a clear end goal in mind.
With the first company, my boss didn’t communicate his vision to us (employees). I’m not sure if there really was a vision to be honest unless it was simply to be in business and make a living. We came to work, tried our best to get things done, but left feeling frustrated and for me personally, I kept thinking about what else I could be doing that was more exciting. This company had so much potential. In the right circumstances, I could have helped grow out of the team, then go on to open more offices around the country. It could have been really lucrative. Ultimately I left that company for lack of feeling like I was part of something.
My current boss (the second company) has clearly communicated his vision for the company to myself and my colleagues. He does it on a weekly basis. While we (the US team) are only 3 people, we are actually crushing it. And it’s not because any one of us works hard. It’s because we all work together. The only way to work together is if we know where we are headed. I will admit, we do have more structure than in the first company. However, both of the ‘sales guys’ in the office (my mentor me) are very ADHD, and yet we are still trucking towards our yearly goals.
We still don’t have perfect structure to our days and weeks. We are not even all in the same room with the current pandemic, but we get closer and closer to our common goal every day. This is all because of the Vision we are working towards. He communicated the vision in the first interview. This is the identity of the company and this is why we are here.
My point is, any company can have ‘structure’ but if there is not Vision/Mission, then there is no future. No employee is going to have extreme loyalty to their employer unless they feel they are advancing themselves, a group, or a cause towards a greater goal.
If you are stuck in a company without Vision/Mission.
I know most people have no choice but to keep their current jobs because the bills won’t pay themselves. If you are one of those people, stuck in a company without a clear vision, here are my tips for you.
1. Ask someone what the Vision is.
There is a relatively high chance that your company does have a defined “Mission” especially if it’s a larger mature company. All too often, companies lose their original vision as they grow and the new hires are not brought into the loop. If you search around and ask some people who have been with the company from the early days, they should be able to tell you.
This could end up sparking a discussion among leaders and could ultimately lead to a wake-up call. Definitely worth a shot.
2. See if your team/department has a Vision.
A department goal can be difficult to understand without first understanding the overall company mission. However, every team/department works to advance the overall company mission. Therefore, your team/department’s goal should be something along the lines of, “We [insert team name] exist to ___, in order to [insert likely company vision].”*
3. Form your own Vision.
It is possible to create Vision for your team and get them to adopt it. However, if that is not possible, start with your Vision. What do you ultimately want to accomplish? Once you’ve formalized your vision and discerned if your current job can help you towards that, use that as your daily driver. Your days will become more enjoyable and you will ultimately set yourself on course to near the destination you seek.**
4. Find a new job.
If your current job isn’t going to help you get at all closer to something that is important to you, I’d recommend looking elsewhere. Your happiness will increase significantly when you find that job that aligns with what you are looking for.
If you are leading a company without Vision/Mission.
It’s pretty straight forward but requires patience. Spend time recalling your motivations for starting the company and eventually you’ll be able to formalize in one or two sentences why the company exists, and what you are looking to accomplish.
If you didn’t found the company, then take a look around. If you have an idea what it is that's a good starting point. You might have to review the documents about when your company was founded (depending on the age of the organization) but it should be on the same track. Company visions can change along the way, but more often than not, the vision won’t change, simply the way the vision is accomplished has evolved.
Hopefully, this was helpful for you. As you may have gathered, my style of writing is often more of a stream of thought as I work these things out in my mind. However, it is clear to me, If a company doesn’t have a clear vision, and does not communicate that vision to the world and its employees, that company is doomed to fail.