A version of this article was originally published by IESE Insight(http://insight.iese.edu)
In the book, "En busca de la mision. El secreto de las organizaciones excelentes" ("In Search of the Mission Statement: The Secret of Excellent Organizations"), IESE Professor Pablo Cardona and consultant Carlos Rey explain, in the form of a story, the experience of "Mario" and his attempts to apply, in a practical manner, the central tenets of an earlier work by the authors, "Management by Missions."
In this way, the book serves as a useful guide for others on how to implement a mission statement in a meaningful way, which goes beyond simple communication plans or presidential speeches. By following Mario's example, companies will experience positive, long-term benefits on how they function and their results, which will consequently generate external benefits on society at large.
AT DEPARTMENTAL LEVEL
The authors write that a mission statement must be broad and motivating but also clear and concise, so that the idea can be transmitted easily. Above all, it must have the wider support of management, otherwise it will not be realized properly.
The principles must be developed by each of the company's departments. This requires the participation of those responsible for each area, who should define what their specific involvement is in the overall mission statement of the company. By doing this, an organizational chart of the mission statement is created, in which a series of departmental mission statements are established.
In this process of deployment, the following must be considered:
-- Each department should take into account all the dimensions of the higher order's mission statement.
-- If there is no commitment to develop criteria, it is better not to introduce it in the participative mission statement.
-- It is necessary to do it as a team, in order to involve the maximum number of people per department.
NEEDS FULL SUPPORT OF LEADERS
Defining a mission statement and deploying it through a participative process is a success in itself. The exercise generates debate and provides those responsible for each area with an overall vision of the company. It also prompts each department to reflect upon how it operates, to assess its weaknesses and to suggest improvements.
Next comes implementation. Putting the mission statement into practice requires integrating the participative mission statements with the management systems of the day-to-day business. The tools for managing the company may need to be reformulated to transmit the mission properly.
The key is knowing how to identify what needs to change and how to handle the information until a new system is in place that is consistent with the mission statement throughout the organization. Some key considerations are: the matrix of interdependencies between participative mission statements; the control board of the mission statement; goals related to the mission statement; performance evaluation focused on the mission statement; and development of the mission statement's capacities.
Another critical factor that will determine whether the mission statement has any real impact on the organization is the leadership. If managers and middle managers are not committed to developing the mission statement in a proactive manner, then it becomes little more than an academic exercise. It is essential, therefore, that the leaders carry the torch, so that all the time and effort devoted to the exercise will not have been in vain.
Executives, middle managers and general staff are equally responsible for playing their part. This requires:
-- Breaking down functional silos and promoting interdepartmental cooperation.
-- Improving vertical and horizontal communication.
-- Unifying all members of the company.
-- Committing to a common project.
-- Generating new ideas.
Managing by missions is a more humane and rational way of managing organizations, write the authors. Though it may seem more demanding, they insist that, in the long run, it will empower managers with a greater capacity to lead and give greater meaning to all future company activities.