5 easy steps to create your company’s vision and values.

Creating your company's vision and values is not a once-off process.
5 easy steps to create your company’s vision and values.
Sharne McDonald

Why is it important to set the vision and values for your company? I’m sure most of us learned how to set up a business plan in school (similar to the VMOSA process), an exercise that taught us we needed to write a vision & mission statement, create financial goals for the business, etc., before venturing out to buy our raw materials and make the products. 🤔 Maybe we should’ve paid more attention in school…

Writing this article seems to address something so basic, yet many companies go about their business without doing this first. Admittedly, it’s not necessarily a bad thing, as many businesses come about organically in trying different solutions to solve a problem, or by testing their product/service on the market.

On the other hand, some companies seem to ‘grow out of’ their vision and values as the business has morphed into something greater, or different, than initially planned or envisioned. In both cases, as the dream moves closer to reality, a moment comes where a bit more clarity and direction is needed.

To answer my question in the first line of this article, why is it important to set the vision and values for your company? We all need something to work towards. We need vision (leaders), we need to be shown how to get there (managers), and we need motivation, which can only really come from personal buy-in and peer-to-peer acknowledgement.

So, there’s a two-way here: one is to set up your organisation’s vision and values; two is to continually revisit and revise them.

The 5 steps.

1. Research.

Look into how others have built companies that you admire and read about their vision and values. Bailey Kropman (formerly Superbalist) advises reading books by thought leaders such as Jim Collins and Simon Sinek.

Ask yourself a lot of questions: why does the company exist, or what problem does it want to solve? Think about what you want the company to look like, what it looks like right now and how other people perceive it. These questions are about figuring out the culture, what the company stands for and what you value.

2. Meet collectively.

Put your ear to the ground. The people drive the business. What are the set of behaviours and values you actually live by currently? You’ll only find out once you get everyone in the room to intentionally discuss what the company is about. You might find that many employees/leaders differ and are driving the company in opposite directions.

Honest feedback was one of the core values of Pixar. Picture taken from Booksnips #1: Creativity, Inc.

3. Write down everyone’s ideas.

Make it as visual and accessible as possible — everyone should be involved and give input. You’ll be able to narrow down ideas to themes, and eventually themes to phrases that can be turned into values. You may need an extended period of time to do this (but not too long — a couple of weeks or 1 or 2 months).

Buffer sent out a survey to their team to get everyone’s ideas.

4. Discover where the customer fits in and how they experience the company/product.

Do this in 2 ways: ask the employees and ask the clients themselves. This is insightful in terms of how your employees’ behaviours put the company’s vision forward and how your clients feel it.

Yes, this has to do with branding and marketing, but it is also an opportunity to compare perceived values with actual customer experiences. Based on your findings, decide what needs to change: your employees’ behaviours based on the set of values, or your company’s values based on your customers’ experiences.

Drift’s brand book says a lot about their values.

5. Get buy-in from every level in the company.

As mentioned in point 4 above, your company’s vision and values come to life in the everyday interactions between employees and customers. The vision and values must be the guiding principles of your business and not just look good on a poster at the reception area.

Do your employees care about and remember the values? How can your company values be woven into every fibre of the workday without being overstated and eventually ignored? Getting buy-in is the most difficult part of this process and how to go about it will depend on your culture and team dynamics.

One of Buffer’s values is to “Default to transparency” — they openly publish the breakdown of their pricing and how much profit they make.
Hubspot collaboratively put together their Culture Code, to ‘create a company they love.’
Netflix’s famed culture deck is lived out practically and can be seen in which staff they hire or let go.

The loop.

Arguably more important than setting the vision and values, is getting feedback on them and revising accordingly. This is a core principle in Agile development — ship quickly and improve as you go along!

Some inspiration.

We love reading through culturecodes.co for inspiring vision and values from some of the top organisations in the world.

Ref: Bailey Kropman, University of Kansas, Shopify, culturecodes.co, Huffington post

Would you like to weave your company’s values into every fibre of the workday? Try Hi5 today >