We're back! We hope you're doing well and are enjoying what seems like a cold breeze of 26 degrees today (if you're in the UK). We've been away working on several projects and writing a lot, so we wanted to share one part of what we've been writing about recently. The rest will become clearer in a month or two's time... Enjoy!
Each of these topics is a book in itself (and we may even write separate ones on them one day!) but having something which defines your organisation in each of these areas can be vital for knowing how to communicate your value. It’s simple, if you don’t know what you stand for then how will you communicate that to others? This is more than just a few sentences on a website, it’s about setting the direction for the change you’re aiming to make.
If you get this right you’re well on your way to developing a brand which resonates which people and most importantly, one which people want to join. Sometimes we like to create a purpose statement which sums up all these areas in one sentence, but to cater for all we thought we’d go through the most commonly used “direction-setting” statements; Value Proposition,Vision and Mission.
Your value proposition is a way that you can define what value you will bring to a person or a community. In many cases, it’s good to define both. It’s the way that you help people understand how you’re tackling a problem and what they’ll gain out of it. Knowing what key areas of value should be communicated is one of the challenges of defining it, but once you carve out your place in the market and the minds of your stakeholders, it’ll be very difficult for people to ignore it if done well. Some questions which help define your value proposition are:
· What would the community we’re serving look like if we weren’t around?
· What change do we want to make?
· What do people gain from engaging with us?
· What emotions do we help people feel/manage?
· How is what we provide different from similar services?
· How are we going to deliver change effectively?
· How can we prove that?
There are a lot of thoughts there and it’s more than likely you know what value you bring to the community. This may also already be communicated through a Theory of Change model. As is the case with many of these key organisational development areas, once you get them right they’ll stand for the test of time no matter who’s in the team or the outside circumstances. You may need to make tweaks, but the foundations will be there. They’ll ensure you can make the right decisions at the right time to get where you need to be.
Your vision is all about what you’d like the world to look like if you were in charge of it. A grand way of describing it, we know. It’s an aspirational statement about what you’re trying to create and is often top-level – meaning it’s designed to be grand and give people a picture in their minds of the impact you’re trying to make. That’s the key aspect of a successful vision statement; being able to conjure up a picture in people’s minds of a different world, one that’s better than what’s currently here.
A vision should keep you going for at least 5-10 years and in many cases should only really be tweaked here and there if it’s proving successful. Your vision should be grand enough to inspire those outside and inside your organisation, but also specific enough that it seems achievable and you can work towards it. That’s where your mission statement comes in…
Your mission is about the steps you’re taking day by day to help achieve your vision. While your vision is aspirational, your mission is about defining practical steps which you’re taking to work towards those outcomes. Often when we describe it like that there’s a tendency to want to go into loads of detail about what services you offer (and it’s right to do that within the right context) but your vision and mission statements should be easy to remember and can easily explain your work in a broad sense.
The key thing about all of these areas is the fact that these statements need to be adopted by your team. We’ve seen what happens when this isn’t addressed with many high-profile charities and leadership within those organisations so you can be sure that if these statements are public (which they don’t have to be, but can be a good accountability method) then people will be holding you to those standards, which is absolutely the right thing to do! The key approach for leadership teams is ensuring that vision and mission are ownable by each team member and that they can understand their role in the journey of getting to these goals.
How well defined is your vision, mission and value proposition?