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#585: Consultants Can Help Validate Client Vision, Mission and Values

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, June 10, 2011
Updated: Friday, June 10, 2011
After getting to know my new client, I see a significant disconnect between their stated vision, mission and values and their actual implementation of the same. Although not in my purview for this engagement, is this something I should point out? Without integrity for these foundations of the company, I doubt my recommendations can make a significant difference.

Vision, mission and values are certainly important for a company to define and on which to build their strategy and operations. If they are not well articulated or, even worse, ignored, then you have an obligation to open up this discussion with your client. It is surprising how many organizations either do not fully develop these parts of their operating basis or let them get out of date. The first thing to be sure of is how your client defines these and sees their value as a foundation of your specific work.

A "vision" is the definition of the state of nature for the organization some time in the future. It can define either the external view of the world as a result of the organization's activities or the internal state of the organization. An explicit vision provides a clear picture everyone has of progress being made. Its ultimate purpose is to create a sense of shared purpose, motivation, and drive to achieve between the organization and its employees. Its resonant impact should be reflected in the way the board governs, the way the executive manages, and the way people work.

A "mission" describes why the organization exists. It describes its fundamental purpose and core business for the benefit of its stakeholders and society as whole. Focused on the present, it emphasizes what the company currently is and not what it is striving to become. Missions are usually stable, may be similar to that of other organizations, and are frequently at odds with actual activities because succeeding generations of managers have lost the feeling of the original mission.

"Values" are the organization's key guiding principles, fundamental beliefs and expected behaviors. Values help to create a cohesive corporate culture and are critical to supporting the organization's mission and ensuring that its vision is ultimately achieved. They are the basis for decision-making as well as program design, and adherence to them requires continuous reinforcement.

As consultants, we have to be aware of and fully understand the expressed vision, mission and values of our clients. Our recommendations must be consistent with those and we should make sure that implementation of our recommendations is consistent with them.

Tip: If there is a discrepancy between vision, mission and values as stated and as lived, it is appropriate for you to raise the issue with your client. Failure to do so compromises the effectiveness of your recommendations. Cast this discussion in terms of, "If the foundation (vision, mission and values) is weak, then the whole building (including your work products) is weak."

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  consultant role  customer understanding  recommendations 

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