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  • Writer's pictureColin Christensen

Vision, Mission, Values and Goals

There are many definitions of Vision, Mission, Values and Goals. Here is an analogy we use on how they all fit together.

I'm not a huge football fan. I like the Grey Cup game (I'm in Canada) and the Superbowl game and I'm happy to go to a live game here and there. I've even played football - now that's a lot of fun. The analogy of football works well for our illustration today and, even if you don't know the game super well, you will get the idea well enough.


I like to refer to Vision as "what will you be when you grow up?" More specifically, "what do you want your company to be when it grows up?" What will it look like in 10 years? What is the BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)? In the illustration of the football game, the Vision could be "winning the Superbowl."

A Vision must be a clear, well defined picture. What are the metrics and specifics for your Vision? Winning the Superbowl is a clear vision. You definitely know if you reached it or not at the end of the season.

In The Whole Entrepreneur Model, Vision is worked out in detail in Step 04.


What game do you want to win? Why do we exist? How do we make the world better? Who do we serve? What difference do we make?

These are questions that help clarify your Mission or Purpose. I like the one: Who do we serve?

Your Mission or Purpose is going to revolve around a certain person (avatar) or group. You are looking for Waldo and only Waldo. There are others that look like him but only one Waldo and everything you should be doing is targeted on winning that person or audience.

In the analogy above, the Mission and Purpose is the game we play or the field we play on. If we're playing football, we're not really trying to appeal to Hockey fans. If we run a Steak house, we're not really trying to win with the Vegetarians. We need to be clear about what game we're going to compete in. A clearly stated Mission or Purpose make that obvious to those who interact with us.


Patrick Lencioni speaks of Values as "How do we behave?" What do we stand for? What are we willing to be punished for? Values are the personality of the business.

Values will keep you grounded when things are going awry around you.

In the football analogy, it is what the team is focused on. We are a team that supports one another. There is no one more important than the other. We're going to work hard and fight for each other. etc.

I like the way Patrick Lencioni defines the different types of Values: There are Aspirational Values, Accidental Values, Permission to Play Values and Core Values. I discuss this in another blog post here.


Goals differ from Vision in the sense that they are the interim plays or steps to carry you towards your Vision. Like football, you can pull off the occasional "Hail Mary" play but that still might only win one game, not achieve the Vision - not to mention you shouldn't be betting on that type of a play as strategy. So Goals are the planned, well defined steps or plays that get you one step closer to your vision.

A Goal could stretch out over a year or a few years but I'm talking about 90 day sprints that will have clearly defined wins. This is how we move the ball down the field. Everyone has a specific part to play, it is very well defined and everyone is aligned around that goal and again, it is measurable.

Accountabilities or Responsibilities

These two next pieces are vital and often over looked. Okay, at least not well defined. There are some great tools around these areas in Step 05 in The Whole Entrepreneur Model.

Every role should have 3-7 specific Accountabilities or Responsibilities. 3-7 is the right number for humans to be able to remember without too much effort. If I give you a laundry list of Responsibilities, over time you will get into a habit of doing them all. But, those that you don't do often tend to fall from memory and off the table of getting done. I could tell my employee that they are responsible for accounting and be done with it but that is too broad and vague. There might be overlap and it leaves little control for what I might need. I could, on the other end of the spectrum, tell them they are responsible for entering data into Sage, filling in employee tax forms, submitting all government records, entering everything into each spreadsheet, answering phones, leading the team, making coffee, planning team trips etc etc etc. That is too granular and leads to micromanagement. Somewhere in the middle are 3-7 clear responsibilities that I want them to manage and be accountable for. The rest is left to their autonomy on how it gets done.

Now, back to the football analogy. Every member of the team has a specific set of Responsibilities they are accountable for. If the front line doesn't do their job, the Quarterback gets sacked and they go backwards each play. If the Running Back doesn't get clear down field, the ball won't get caught. All the roles are vital and, while there may be more than one of each role, each one has a different, but just as important, part to play.

This brings us to Behaviours


I'm Canadian so I like the "u" in those words. How well you define the Behaviours you expect on your team along with how well each individual delivers on their Responsibilities is how well the whole team performs. If your team carries out the Responsibilities poorly, in other words, their Behaviours are poor, the job might get done but it will suffer in the face of a better competitor. Imagine the person who says "well, I'm doing my job." Okay, sure, but not delivering it to the level we need to win. You want to call the team to be high performers. To be doing Behaviours that reflect the level you need to win. If the Behaviour is just mediocre, you can't expect anything other than mediocre results.

Every team needs to have made clear the Behaviours they need to repeat and focus on that allows them to win and what Behaviours they need to avoid that would otherwise kill their momentum. Always do "this" and never do "that". Reward and constantly remind on the Behaviours you want and correct and make examples of the Behaviours you want to avoid. If you don't manage it, you can't expect it to improve.

So these different terms are what make up the levers and dials that we leaders can put in place and adjust to maximize the success of the team. Each one has it's role in the function of a successful team.

We can learn a lot from sports in general. Some of the best coaches have transitioned into leaders in the business world and the lessons learned in sport can help you have the dream team you want.

Just another note on this for the fun of the analogy. Where you are positioned on the field, how close you are to the goal line, who you are up against and how much time is left in the game all make for different choices on the plays you make and the Responsibilities of the team players. For this next play or next 90 days, we really need Max to focus on a closing a specific set of clients.


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