The Alignment Foundation: The Core 4

The Alignment Foundation is about the Core 4:

  • Purpose
  • Values
  • Mission
  • Vision

Nothing earth-shattering here. Many of us have heard that we need to have these four pieces in place. But what I’d like you to consider is whether they are REALLY part of your who your organization is, deep to the core. If an employee was acting outside of the core purpose or values of the company, would every other person in the company step in and provide some correction?

It starts with the senior leadership team. Each person on the senior leadership team must exemplify each of the core values of the company. They must know the purpose of the company and be able to tell what that looks like when realized. They need to be able to quote the values and mission (both short), and do so with real conviction. And sharing the vision needs to be second nature, with stories of what you are creating and what it will look like in the future.

Your Purpose

Organizations exist for a purpose. Many would consider that purpose is to make money or create an impact. But purpose goes deeper. Purpose to a faith-based leader may be to glorify God. Purpose to a non-profit leader may be to save millions of lives. And the purpose of a for-profit leader may be to have both a profit and impact. Your Purpose is your WHY. Your Purpose never changes.

Big Think’s Purpose: To Create offerings and events that transform businesses.

Your Values

Core Values are those things that you will get into arguments over, and fire people when they don’t line up with them. They are your immovable rocks that hold peoples’ actions in line. Without them, or with weak or unsupported values, you will notice that you have little control over your corporate culture. The values are critical. You should hire based on values. Fire based on values. Promote based on values.

At Big Think, we have three core values:

  1. Love People (Never Belittle Them)
  2. Deliver Excellent Results (Not Excuses)
  3. Build and Use Systems (Not Proprietary Deliverables)

These three core values hold us together, provide guidance for our actions, and help us hold each other accountable to a standard outside of our own expectations.

Your Mission

Your Mission is a succinct view of the path to fulfilling your Purpose. More actionable than the Purpose, it provides more guidance for better and faster decision-making. It tells us what we do and for whom. It is a measuring stick for decisions.

Big Think’s Mission: To create offerings and events that connect & inspire leaders to think differently.

We focus on supporting leaders to transform their businesses. We don’t create products for the mass market. We don’t start restaurants (unless it’s a learning activity for leaders). And we don’t get involved in status quo activities – stuff that everyone else does (or we won’t transform businesses).

Your Mission informs what you do, and also what you don’t do.

Your Vision

For your Vision, you want a clear and compelling future state that is as real as possible. You need to be able to see, hear, smell, and taste it. And then get others to do the same. Here are some questions to help you think through your vision:

  • What does your company look like in one year?
  • Three years?
  • Ten years?
  • How will it transform the lives or businesses of your customers?
  • What impact will it have on society?
  • Where will your offices be?
  • How many employees will you have?
  • What do those employees feel about your company?
  • What specific measurements will be realized?
  • Any accolades?

Making It Real

Now do this simple exercise, starting with your senior leadership team:

Create a grid of your senior leaders down the left, and the following columns at the top of a page or spreadsheet:

  • Understands and works for the Purpose of the company. Can clearly explain the Purpose.
  • Does the leader exhibit each of the core Values?
  • Can the leader explain each Value and give good and bad examples related to the values?
  • Can the leader tell your the Mission word-for-word? Can they also explain it? Do they manage to it?
  • Can the leader talk about the Vision and help others see it?

When you can answer yes to each of the above questions for every member of your senior leadership team, it is then time to make sure it trickles down to the rest of the company. Give awards for people who are caught exhibiting the Values, or helping to make the Vision a reality.