The foundation is elegantly simple. When constructing a building, what is needed to construct upon to have a strong building? The answer is obvious, you need a strong foundation. What do all religions have? Foundation documents: the Torah, the Bible, the Koran and the like are examples. What do we call these documents? The foundation of the faith. What do the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights do for the good old US of A? Why it forms our foundation. Are you getting this? There is a theme here.
Organizations also need a foundation that outlines its goals and purpose. As an organization grows and develops, having mission and vision (or in my words, “Reason for Being”), BHAG’s (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) and Values can create a “True North” for the organization. (“True North” is a Steven Covey term that relates to the true direction of an organization. It is based on the analogy of a compass.)
The Reason for Being, BHAG’s, and Values of a company can be critical to the overall success of the organization but they’re often forgotten. The corporate Reason for Being is typically created by the Senior Leadership team, captured on posters, and strategically tacked up around the building. Meanwhile, the Reason for Being, BHAG’s, and Values are seen as irrelevant to the organization’s day-to-day operations. In other words, the organization’s behavior is not congruent with its declaration of ideals.
However at their best, the Reason for Being, BHAG’s, and Values, give an organization a future to live into. This potential future galvanizes and focuses the organization. Whether or not goals are met entirely, movement toward them develops teamwork and is valuable to the company.
How exactly can you create the foundation material of an organization? One of the issues with this topic is that each bloodsucking consultant like yours truly and especially the other ones writing books —God bless our souls because the world would be a boring place without us—has a different idea of what a mission statement, Values, BHAG’s, etc., should be. The lack of an agreed-upon definition creates lots of confusion. Corporate citizens argue about what a mission is, what a vision is, and what the differences are. Yikes! Save me or stab me with a stick!
So, in the face of all that, let me finally give you the right definitions. KIDDING! There is no “right” way to do this kind of foundational writing—the exorbitant fee charged by the bloodsucking consultant claiming to have the right way notwithstanding. There are only two necessary ingredients to foundational writing: that the work is relevant to the participants and that the participants are prepared to demonstrate, through committed action, their adherence to what they created—no kidding.