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"Why have the Mission, Vision and Value Statements of so many Companies failed them in the Covid era

QUESTION: When the 'new normal' becomes 'normal' what happens to the 'old normal'? ANSWER: Stop looking for the 'old normal' or the 'new normal' and start focusing on being strong and assertive about the here and now!

There are some business professionals who take themselves and their 'processes' very seriously. If they were to be honest, they might have to admit that their well worded, highly crafted (and often highly paid for) 'Mission - Vision and Value' statements that were created in the years (or months) previous to March 2019 proved to be essentially worthless when all hell broke loose and everyone was scrambling for answers especially in the Pandemic's earliest days.

Truth be told (again), maybe because they got out of the habit of asking tough questions, many Leaders were not even sure what questions they should be asking at a time when the three pillars of good management, those M, V and V's should have burst forth from their resting places to light the way forward.

In many cases, we know that they absolutely did not do that. In fact I am virtually certain that in the first few weeks of last Spring's mass pandemonium, there wasn't one CEO or Chairman who called her troops together and shouted, "...Quick, get me those Mission, Vision and Value Statements (so that) we can figure out what to do here...?

And why not?

Reason 1 - Sameness: The original intent for the creation of Mission, Vision and Values statements was to use a dynamic and purposeful process to create and achieve clarity and focus; an internal roadmap if you will. No one ever said that they had to be updated, changed or re-written every year and, believe it or not, in the early days of M, V & V's, they were not published for the whole world to see. Yet, the more Leadership Teams fiddled with the original equation to add (among other things) social consciences and required annual reviews, the more they started running out of things to say. An entire cottage industry then developed around using outside Advisors and Counselors who could guide the Team to new and powerful self-discoveries by looking left and right to find the "best practices' which; by implication, meant someone else's best practices.

Things eventually devolved into an unintended race to the bottom; the bottom as in a dearth of any real original thinking, crisp enunciation or even a simple "uniqueness" of design. Even the language used to describe what was supposed to be so important became co-opted.

How long do you think it would take me to find and count up the number of [different] Mission, Vision and Value declarations from [different] companies in [different] industry verticals with exactly the same words used in them like "enabling", "engaging", "excellent", (customer) "experience", "expertise". "empowering", "exceptional" and "ethical"? (And that's just because I happened to have started with the "E's").

Really? Is that the best we can do?

Reason 2 - Misguided Purpose: Within far too many organizations, the Mission, Vision and Value Statements shifted from deep discussions about Customers, Competitors and Innovation and became instead the vessels of declaring everything right, wrong or intended-to-be-fixed within that organization's culture. When we tried to fix every problem, right every wrong [and] project and plan for the future, all at the same time and all in 1 or 2 sentences, the end result looked more like virtue signaling built by a Committee and less and less like battle plans for growing a business, capturing market share and finding and keeping new Customers. Here to wit:

"...We will strive to become an accepting and inclusive team of empowered and engaged individuals whose better visions of themselves can be realized by open and socially conscious efforts to serve the needs of everyone while welcoming the competitive landscape that binds us all together..."


Reason 3 - Not Really A Plan At All: Within far too many organizations, the setting of their M, V and V's became more about the exercise and less about the hard questions and even harder answers that should have driven their processes. It was far easier to stay the course, wash and wax the wording and make sure that the Board, the company WEB site and the 'cultural Stakeholders' could all be served. Check and challenge our thinking became instead for many just this: Check the box. Done.

Were budgets reforecast? Were the Human Capital requirements checked against the plans for market advancement? Were there even plans for market advancement? Were available versus needed resources on the table? Were the sacred cows at least brought into the barn to see if they were still breathing? Did even one Board member stand up and ask a tough question or find out what alternatives were discussed that [didn't] make the final cut? Did anyone even bother to ask 'how' any of the statements contained in the M, V and V's were going to be made actionable? ("No, no, not likely, gee that's a good question and why are you making me uncomfortable?" would all be honest answers here).

And guess what, all of that malfeasance went basically unnoticed [until] someone actually had to use what were once the very foundational structures of the organization without prior warning; as in, oh say, maybe a pandemic. All of the great 'planning' turned out to be very little planning at all; especially when the completely unexpected happened.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Life and business are identical in this one way: Every new day presents the greatest of all open-ended questions; "Where do we go from here?" Often [some] of the answers come from asking "What exactly did we learn from yesterday?" Another part of the answer is in a hard determination to never allow ourselves to be partially or fully asleep at the wheel again; even though we once believed we had set a clear course.

It is time for a new model for creating and communicating our organization's intent for it's present and future. One that is clean, clear, direct and real. And that new one will emerge soon, I promise... (hint, hint).

Watch these pages and in the coming weeks to see what being strong and assertive can look like and what can replace the Mission, Vision and Values Model for your organization...


Allan DeNiro is an Author, Keynote Speaker and Facilitator for Organizations, their Leaders or as a one-to-one Advisor. He would be proud to meet you for a discussion online. If you learned something today, please share this article widely across your network

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