Why do we do what we do, Part 2: From a whiteboard to mission and vision statements

After successful team workshops on the meaning of work and our company’s core values, we decided to tackle our mission and vision statements to bring them up to date with the Positium of today. Here’s how we made sense of a bunch of sticky-notes on a digital whiteboard and defined our mission and vision for the future.
Pondering about the meaning of work, life and family.

Step 1: Gather

As a company’s mission and vision statement have to speak to those working there, we wanted to give everyone a chance to contribute their thoughts to the process. We started out with two workshops, one for the mission and one for vision, which involved a brainstorming session with team leads. Then the team leads went to collect further ideas from their team members. Powered by Miro, we were able to simply gather ideas on a digital whiteboard using “sticky notes”, one idea per note. The company values, which we developed together with input from our entire team, were a good starting point for the brainstorm.

A vision statement is relevant to what you do, to what Positium does today.

Step 2: Categorise and Compare

Once the initial ideas were jotted down, we went in and grouped them together into categories based on similarity of content. The categorisation highlighted the bigger points we wanted to convey with our statements. In later stages, these come in handy to make sure the most important keywords are covered. After categorising, we took one note from each category (the one that described the category the best) and matched mission categories to vision categories to see how well they align with each other. As a continuation, we took our former mission and vision statements and compared them to one another.

Step 3: Vote

As we wanted to involve several people in the development of our statements, not just the board, voting was a key component in our process. We voted separately for vision and mission statements using a 3-2-1 system (top three choices, with the first one getting 3 points, etc). Through this process we determined key statements and phrases to include. But did the missions actually align with the visions? That’s where step 4 comes in.

Step 4: Analyse

In this step, we matched the remaining mission and vision statements to each other using connector arrows. The point of this exercise was to make sure the statements we have chosen match and work towards a common goal. Each vision statement needs to have at least one matching mission statement. If there is anything at this stage that does not pair up, it gets thrown out of the mix.

The pairing process was followed by a discussion session. Discussion should involve whether the mission statements that were chosen actually reflect what the company does today, and whether the vision statements that were chosen aren’t too broad. The latter should be associable with your company, not just any other company. For example, statements like “We want to change the world” are too broad.

Step 5: Revise

If the previous steps yielded dissatisfactory results, we would consider going back and revising. Although based on our experience, the steps taken so far are quite thorough and should not need full revision. Instead, having one extra session for discussion might be sufficient to resolve any issues. It might mean combining a few statements with each other to form so-called combo-statements, making sure some company-specific keywords are present in the finalised statement. That’s what we did. We went for a combo-statement to ensure important keywords are included. Opting for a combo-statement might mean having to rewrite or create some options of final statements.

Example of vote counts from Miro. In the center are top results, which we moved forward with.

Step 6: Finalise

Finally - finalising! In this step there are different methods. You could keep the finalising circle small (i.e. board + team leads) and have them vote among three final statement pairs, which have the same key components but are worded differently. The other option is to take it back to the whole company and let everyone participate in voting. The latter option will work in SMEs, but likely not in larger companies. In the final voting process, each participant gets just one vote.

From the workshops, three vision and mission statement candidates emerged. The board did some analysis and decided that some of those candidates were not totally in line with the board’s understanding of vision and mission, so with some minor adjustments, a final set of statement candidates remained (with some linguistic variations - the main idea is the same). The Positium management team consisting of the board and team leads had a vote to choose the best suitable vision and mission statements for the company from a finalised list.

So – what are the results?

Based on the vote, the vision of Positium is:

We strive for the future where every country in the world benefits from mobile positioning data for the good of society.

The mission of Positium is:

We provide high-quality methods and processing tools to transform mobile positioning data into valuable insights on human activity in space and time.

The process helped us realign ourselves and understand what we are working towards together as a team. As a result, we have a stronger internal mission-feeling and have bonded even more as a team. But our job doesn't stop at rephrasing the vision and mission statements. We aim to achieve the vision and deliver our best mission-driven results to our clients.

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