Creating a Vision & Mission

A Vision and Mission is too often regarded as meaningless because there is no clear connection between them and current actions or priorities. However, when this relationship is created it can create a shared goal for a startup or product can significantly help align your team by clearly articulating what you’re working towards. Keeping the end in mind and showing how that connects back to today will help your team make better day-to-day decisions in addition to seeing how their actions are feeding into the larger strategy.

Here’s a template that can help create this:

I use this template as a starting point to help map the relationship between Vision and Actions.

1/ Vision

Describe the world that you are building towards. Describe how you plan to improve the lives of your customers and how the world will be different if you succeed.

2/ Dragon to Slay

For that vision exist, what “evil” needs to be vanquished? What wrong are you making right or frustration to remove for your customer. This is the nemesis that you rally against.

Note: at this point it helps to do a sense check that the Vision and Dragon aren’t incredibly niche or just plain silly. How would your customers describe them?

3/ Mission

This is the outline of what you’re going to do as a company to create the new world that your Vision outlines. What does your company need to be to achieve it?

4/ Master Plan

There will be some milestones that you need to achieve in order to become what your mission describes. The Master Plan outlines the stepping stones to get you there.

Tesla’s 2006 Master Plan is a great example. In Musk’s own words:
“1. Create a low volume car, which would necessarily be expensive
2. Use that money to develop a medium volume car at a lower price
3. Use that money to create an affordable, high volume car

And…

4. Provide solar power. No kidding, this has literally been on our website for 10 years.”

So far, so good 15 years later. There’s one for SpaceX too.

5/ Six Month Goals

Once you know the big steps, it’s time to break the first one down to outline your team’s priorities for the next 6 months. What are the next steps to achieve step 1 in the Master Plan?

6/ Focus Area

This final step I’ve found helpful to help your team prioritise tasks when they dive into action mode. This will be a theme or area of your business which is the most important to focus on for the next few months. This could be: “create a tech foundation”, “find the best growth channels”, “Rapid Growth”, “Build partnerships”, “Technical debt”, etc.

Typically this exercise can be done in a 1hr session. After your team has been through this process you should all be clear on your direction and what the next steps are. In my experience it’s great for getting team-wide input and well worth the time investment.

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Roger Norton

Roger Norton

Head of Product @FoundersFactoryAfrica. Previously: co-founder @Trixta & @leaniterator, CEO Playlogix.com, and wrote a book on startups: leanpub.com/starthere