Admittedly, this will sound trite. Mission statements are a bunch of crap.
I have never known a company to honor their mission statements in the context misunderstood by employees. When push has come to shove it is as one of my employees once said, “We get the shaft.” Mission and values are the most ambiguous and overused words in business.
Okay, I’m wrong.
The other would be, “Our employees are our greatest assets.”
Recently the debacle at the VA caused noted General Eric Shinseki to resign. Bureaucracies of any sort can do that. I once worked at Covey where organizations spent huge sums on mission statements. I’ll be honest. At Covey and the company that penned hos book mission statements in all their glory were merely theoretical as opposed to actuality.
In the case of the VA this is the point. All too often executives matriculate a set platitudes adjusted by their underlings to the point where employees become directionless and cynical. When that occurs the problems at the VA and Nokia develop. In Chief Executive Magazine a fine article on failure and leadership asserts Mr. Shinseki’s experience should have benefited him more. Perhaps. However, unlike a business the VA confronts deeply entrenched silos with politicians seeking alms for protecting shall we say their own assets. Which is a significant bottleneck to progress in organizations.
Writes Colin D. Baird:
To overhaul the organization, stakeholders at VMMC turned to implementing lean manufacturing, and the cultural benefits derived from Dr. Deming’s “14 Points of Management.” In a radical rethink of how to best convince individuals that this new way of doing things was needed, teams of workers and executives were flown to Japan to work in various production facilities. Working side by side with Japanese-speaking production workers, nurses, doctors, and executives were able to work in conditions that allowed them to observe and experience first-hand why continuous process improvement knows no specific industry, or geographical boundaries. Whether it’s building air conditioning units in Japan or improving American healthcare, great culture means employees get to spend a higher percentage of time doing things the customer pays for, and less time on wasteful practices that prohibit it from occurring.
Since these ideas are in radical opposition to what American executives typically are taught and believe about employee commitment and engagement, the new CEO at VMMC knew it would be a challenge to change the culture. He really wanted his teams to see and experience things differently in a process the Japanese call Genchi Genbutsu—which means go see and experience things for yourself where the actual work for the customer is accomplished. The team’s experiences in Japan proved that spending more time doing things customers want leads to increased quality, productivity and profitability. Employees’ contributions to these management principles are what make improvements possible. As employees begin to feel their contributions matter, they have, as Deming once said, more purpose in life, and higher levels of dignity and self esteem.
Jim Woods is a leadership development and training consultant deploying his unique abilities in character based training and strategy.
Jim is president of InnoThink Group a human resources and leadership management consulting firm | Skype ID – jim.woods79 http://www.innothinkgroup.com Click here to schedule an appointment.m. He has an absolute passion for people development and are constantly refining and adapting his programs in order to ensure that they have the maximum impact on those we serve.