The CEO Imperative… Develop Company Aspirations

October 28, 2009 by

Company aspirations are the combination of its Mission, Vision, Values and Priorities. When developed thoughtfully and communicated effectively, aspirations will provide employees, partners and customers with clarity and inspiration. They will also provide managers and employees with a powerful beam of light as they develop their goals and execute them day to day. And they can become a powerful tool in competitive positioning and competitive advantage.

  • Mission: is the ultimate goal of the company… What do you want to be as a company in the long term… where when you get there, you will feel that you’ve made it. The mission defines the purpose of the company and the commitment it is making to its stakeholders (customers, shareholders, employees).
  • Vision: is an image of the company in the future that brings it closer to achieving the mission… The vision can have a one to three year time horizon, and helps set a goal in the foreseeable future with more tangible results than the mission.
  • Values: are the set of inherent beliefs and characteristics that are shared by the organization… Values are difficult to articulate and have the highest risk of being perceived as empty promises. Values start with the CEO, who needs to be the first to live them… then the senior management team… then the employees.
  • Priorities: help set the right focus on the key stakeholders… Is it truly the customer? Who comes after. Is it partners, or employees, or shareholders? Or does the organization have another set of priorities (wealth creation or revenue growth). Is it clear to all employees what these priorities are?

Netflix has a great example of creating competitive advantage through aspirations. See “Reference Guide on our Freedom & Responsibility Culture.

OpenView put together a framework (and a workshop) that has helped our companies develop their aspirations. This is yet another example of the operational support we provide through OpenView Labs.