Saturday, February 16, 2008

Mission and Vision and Mantra, Oh My!

There is some buzz in the business community about having a Mantra. Those of us who have lived through Missions and Visions, I trust, don't see a Mantra as being any different so I'll cut right to the chase. Mission, Vision and Mantra statements fail because people forget that these statements are starting points and not the end. Some will spend endless hours and engage endless consultants to finally come up with the right Mantra and when finally done, breathe a collective sigh of relief and then, move on. Does a Mantra alone really have any value internally with employees and externally with clients? I think we all know the answer to that one.

In order for one of these statements to be of any true value, you would have to put the statement into practice. And by practice I mean practice as in 'practice makes perfect'. Perception is the key here. Your Mantra would have to be tied to a set of values and standards that every decision and action is accountable to from the board room to the front office.

One of the things that I try to impress upon my clients over and again is that "an idea without a buyer is of little value". So if you actually believe that someone would be willing to join your organization or buy from you based on a Mantra then I suggest you start testing different Mantras on your potential clients and potential employees and see which one works best. Once you have found the perfect Mantra that engages clients and employees you would need to change the entire organization to successfully live up to that Mantra. The other option is to create a Mantra from the values and standards that endear and engage your organization to your existing clients and employees. Hopefully your organization will have some of those qualities and you can encapsulate them into a 3 to 4 word statement. You may discover that the most appropriate Mantra based on existing values and standards is 'We are Evil' but don't fret as you won't have to change anything to live up to it. And just think, with a Mantra like that you could be opening up a whole new untapped market segment.

For those of you who believe that a Mantra is 'old school', I have just coined the next corporate image term and it is "Chant". It is based on the premise that if you say something enough times , something being a 3-4 word statement, people will start to believe it. This ensures the desired effect and doesn't require any organizational change other than making it mandatory to memorize and recite the statement at every opportunity.