A STONE OR PART OF A CHURCH WALL?

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January 21, 2021

The goal of any business is to make a profit. However, nowadays, a naked desire to earn will not be enough for companies to survive, withstand and compete in the growing competition. If a company’s goal is to be able to attract qualified employees – personalities and talents, to tune them to the common wave of cooperation, as well as to be able to understand its customer base, it cannot do so without such brick-solid concepts of successful organization building as the company’s mission, vision and values.

When should a company reorganize?

“Everyone knows that primitive humans strengthened their social system by faith in ghosts and spirits; they gathered around the campfire for ritualistic dances on full moon nights. However, we tend to ignore the fact that modern organizations are designed and operate in exactly the same way. For example, the corporate world. Today’s businessmen and lawyers are, in fact, influential shamans. The only difference between them and the ancient shamans is that the lawyers tell much stranger stories.” [1]

Yuval Noah Harari, an Israeli historian and professor at the Jewish University of Jerusalem, emphasizes the magic number of 150 when describing the critical threshold for human organizational activity. Within these limits, companies, social networks, public organizations and military units can operate on the basis of close acquaintance and gossip.

However, as soon as the 150-person threshold is exceeded, the existing structures will cease to function. It is not possible to lead a division of 1000 men as if it were a platoon. A successful family business usually faces a crisis when it grows and is forced to hire a lot of employees. If the reorganization fails at this point, the company will usually go bankrupt [2].

The mission must be emotional

The success of any company is formed by its employees, for whom, as never before, the trinity of corporate management is important: vision, mission and values. Companies that adhere to ethical principles have proven to be more profitable in the long run and better able to cope with various types of crises.

“The mission of the organization is a clearly defined basic goal – why the organization exists at all. It has to be emotional enough, it has to justify why you and your employees come to work. If the mission statement is similar to the mission statements of other companies, boring and formal, then it doesn’t make sense,” emphasizes the article written by Spring Valley and Hauska & Partners for the Sustainability Index.

The company’s mission and message must be specific enough for people to understand what it does and how it differs from other competitors.

A mission aimed at increasing the wealth of a company’s shareholders rarely inspires the company’s employees, as well as fails to attract customers. Therefore, it is customary to use other concepts such as vision and values in the management of organizations.

A dream to be fulfilled

The company’s vision differs slightly from the company’s mission in its meaning, expressed in the desired form of fulfillment. For example, Walt Disney’s vision is extremely simple and at the same time understandable to everyone: to make people happier. The vision of the car manufacturer Ford is the desire to become the world’s leading company in the car industry.

There is an old fable of stonemasons who were moving stones for their work, but when asked by a young apprentice what they were doing, one of the stonemasons answered that he was laying stones to cover them with other stones, and the other answered that he was building a church. You don’t have to be a hell of a good staff specialist to understand which of the stonemasons will be more responsible and whose approach to work will be of better quality. It is, therefore, a story of vision.

Everything is based on values

British entrepreneur and writer Allan Leighton points out in his book On Leadership, that entrepreneurship is relatively simple, but everyone wants to complicate it. Business viewers almost agonize over reflecting on the concept of strategy, forgetting that strategy is probably only about 20% responsible for the functioning of the company. Strategy is important, but it is a compass, not a road map. The strategy tells you which direction to go, but the most important thing is how to get there. Companies with great strategies and clumsy execution get nowhere. Companies with medium strategy and medium execution are already doing a little better. But companies with great strategy and great execution become great companies.

However, there is a third pillar in this important wall of business brick-solid concepts, and these are the values that affect the company’s management principles, as well as the attitudes towards customers and employees alike.

Imagine a boat with oarsmen and a captain lost in the middle of a large lake. If there is no compass, no strategy, then there is no point in rowing with all your might. If there is a strategy, it is possible to choose the path – to row through the territory of the reserve, or to take a large detour and not disturb the animals living in it – for that is the unwritten law of society – not to break the rules. A captain whose life has important values, not just a goal, will choose to measure the longest path while still being able to reach the final destination, thereby gaining more respect in the process.

[1] Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. Zoldner Publishing House, 2018, p. 26.
[2] ibid.