Tag Archives: mission

Vision & Mission Statements: What’s the Difference?

Bernie Kliska
Bernie Kliska

Does it matter if you use a Vision Statement when you meant to use a Mission Statement? The answer is yes. As research has shown the importance of a family business having a strategic plan, it is equally important for the plan to include both a clear Vision and Mission Statement. Both statements serve valuable roles as the core element of the strategic plan.

A Vision Statement defines what the business hopes to be in the future. It provides guidance for a five to ten year period. It is written succinctly and in an inspirational manner that is easy for all family members, employees, and customers to understand.

A Mission Statement defines the present purpose of the family business. It usually answers three questions: What it does, who it does it for, and the company’s values and priorities.

The Vision and Mission Statements can be marketing tools as well because it announces your goals and purposes to your employees, suppliers, and customers.

It is never too late for a family business to define its Vision and Mission. In fact, some even reinvent themselves through the strategic planning process, which always should include well defined Vision and Mission proclamations.

A Surprising Benefit of Low Pay in Family Businesses

David Ransburg
David Ransburg

I recently met with a family business owner who is quite open about the fact that he consistently pays his employees at a below-market rate. Given that he also makes great efforts to ensure that his company delivered the very highest level of quality, I questioned him about his low pay strategy.

I thought – somewhat naively, it would now appear – that higher quality demanded higher employee wages. He believed that low pay helped him to find the right employees for his company – those who would be dedicated, hard working, and have a strong belief in the company’s vision and mission. In other words, offering low pay – and having a reputation for doing so – provided his company with employees who weren’t working solely for the money. And, he believed, an employee who works for reasons other than just the money is an employee who will ultimately deliver higher quality.

While I remained somewhat skeptical, his argument did move me slightly because it reminded me of the common refrain about the low pay received by teachers. Even though all agree that teachers are so important, we, as a society, want them to be passionate about their jobs and to see their work as meaningful – not to do it for the money alone.

Now, there’s some research that further supports this line of thinking. The Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in Bonn found that relatively few workers are motivated by their organization’s mission, BUT those who are so motivated provide substantially higher effort AND receive lower pay. Granted, higher effort does not guarantee higher quality… but, I would suggest that it’s a good start.

Have you found a similar benefit of low pay in your family business? Or, are there other surprising benefits of low pay that you’ve seen?

Same Family, Different World Views

Kent Rhodes
Kent Rhodes

One of the most basic dynamics we see in working with family owned enterprises is how people engage in similar process of making meaning of the world in similar ways. We each take in information, organizing into our own unique observations informed by our beliefs and experiences in a way that helps us make sense of the world. However, even though the process is the same for each of us, we are likely to wind up with varying differences of opinions on our individual “takes” to the same set of circumstances. Even though this is a normal process, it can result in conflict between family members.

But it doesn’t always stop there. People are prone to organize their individually constructed perspectives around others’ similarly held beliefs or actions: We tend to associate with the people around us that we perceive to be interpreting the world like we do. Being from West Texas, one of my favorite (and perhaps most extreme) examples of this dynamic was the creation of a community in West Texas designed expressly for supporters of the politician, Ron Paul. The goal of Paulville is “to establish gated communities containing 100% Ron Paul supporters and/or people that live by the ideals of freedom and liberty.” In 2008, the New York Times reported, “For now, the town is little more than an idea and a title deed…” and that is how it remains today.

In larger families – sometimes branches of the family or even just a couple of siblings – can come together with similar perspectives. This innocent, harmless and natural way of organizing can become detrimental when the notions around which these sub-groups of the family have formed are counter to the overall mission or vision of the enterprise or the family. These kinds of intragroup conflicts tend to be more complex and present a unique challenge to manage so they don’t become detrimental to the enterprise or, more importantly, to the family.

In the next blog, we’ll look at some examples…

The importance of Values and Mission in a family business

Norbert Schwarz
Norbert Schwarz

One of the most enlightening discussions I was privileged to facilitate with a client was one involving the family’s Mission as it related to the business. The question posed was  “why do we own this business?” The question was rephrased as “to what end?” The discussion that followed was most enlightening.

An investor owner focused on the business as a financial wealth creator for the family. Another owner looked at the Mission of the business as being a vehicle for family bonding around a business venture that would require the family to communicate, collaborate and compromise. Some in the younger generation focused their attention on the capacity of the business to contribute to the community and for the shareholders to become more involved in the philanthropic opportunities offered by a growing and profitable family business venture.

In spite of the diverse Missions or business purposes by this family of shareholders, they were able to communicate, collaborate and compromise to establish a unified Mission and Vision statement that provided their professional board with guidelines that would allow the board to direct management effectively in the years to come. The foundation for this very rewarding process was laid by the parents and grandparents who practiced and communicate a set of values that allowed the family to bring generations together toward a common goal.

To what end? The value of getting clarity on mission

Norb Schwarz

One of the most enlightening discussions I was privileged to facilitate with a client was one involving the family’s Mission as it related to the business. The question posed was  “why do we own this business?” The question was rephrased as “to what end?” The discussion that followed was most enlightening.

An investor owner focused on the business as a financial wealth creator for the family. Another owner believed the Mission of the company was to be a vehicle for family bonding around a business venture that would require the family communicate, collaborate and compromise. Some in the younger generation focused their attention on the capacity of the business to contribute to the community and to permit shareholders to become more involved in the philanthropic opportunities offered by a growing and profitable family business venture.

In spite of the diverse Missions discussed by this family of shareholders, they were able to communicate, collaborate and compromise to establish a unified Mission and Vision statement that provided their professional board with guidelines that would enable the board to direct management effectively in the years to come. The foundation for this very rewarding process was laid by parents and grandparents who practiced and communicated a set of values that allowed the family to bring generations together toward a common goal.