What are you made of? What makes you, you? I’m sure you’ve seen the commercials for 23 and Me where, for a fee and a swab of spit, you can find out about your genetic makeup. Your DNA, the fundamental and distinctive characteristics of qualities which make you unique. It is said that companies also have DNA and this is ours!
It started with a collaborative strategy session at our 2017 annual meeting. Where do we want to be in three years? We’ve always had our mission statement, which describes what we’ve done over the past 17 years. However, I felt we needed more. We needed a vision statement.
According to my research, a vision statement is an aspirational statement of where you want to be in the future. It is different from a mission statement. I contrasted the two using the example of the moon landing back in the 1960’s:
NASA Mission Statement (1958):
To provide for research into problems of flight within and outside the earth’s atmosphere, and for other purposes.
Vision of John F. Kennedy (delivered to Congress in 1961):
Land a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth before the end of the decade.
See the difference! Vision statements provide focus. They (hopefully) inspire your team and give them direction. In other words, vision statements are for internal consumption, rather than external communication.
Given our focus on the Revolution, a learning platform, an online learning platform that brings together great content and motivated learners, we decided on the following vision statement:
This strategy session, led to us exploring our own organizational identify, the things we believe in that will enable us to achieve our vision and mission. Gallup defines organizational identity as having the following interrelated elements:
- Culture (or values)
An organization’s purpose is a bold affirmation of its reason for being in business. It answers the question “Why do we exist and why are we here?” It is the driving force that enables a company to define its true brand and create its desired culture.
Think having a purpose is a bunch of hogwash? Think again! According to Deloitte’s millennial survey, a strong sense of purpose is closely linked to positive organization performance. Among businesses where millennials say there is a strong sense of purpose, there is significantly higher reporting of financial success, employee satisfaction, and effective talent recruitment.
We noted that our many of clients, including all the Big 4 firms, had recently devised their purposes and made them public. We were sold and, after a brainstorming session where everyone’s input was taken onboard, we settled on the following purpose:
Culture (or Values)
Culture either facilitate and supports organizational success or it undermines it. It serves as a roadmap and articulates for employees “how we do things around here.” We documented our values previously, but the problem was they were not succinct or memorable. They needed too much explanation and, if I’m being honest, we really didn’t live and breathe them every day.
Again, as a group, we got to work and tried to figure out what it is that we value. What do we believe in? How will we conduct ourselves day-to-day? This is what we came up with:
The brand is the company’s way of communicating “who we are” and “what we promise” to the outside world. A strong brand is focused on the notion of a brand promise – the unique statement of what the company offers and how it is different from its competitors.
As part of our rebranding exercise in 2015, we came up with the following unique selling proposition:
We are experts (in accounting/auditing) and professional educators (in facilitation and course development). However, it is the ENERGY (i.e. passion) that we bring to our learning experiences that is our unique selling proposition.
Not bad. I still like it and believe every word. However, we felt that we needed a clearly articulated brand promise to communicate to our clients. This is ours:
Well, that’s it! That’s our DNA. This is what you get when you do business with GAAP Dynamics. It should be noted that this entire process was done collaboratively which, in my opinion, is the only way to do such an exercise.
In closing, I would like to give credit to our awesome team for their efforts. GAAP Dynamics wouldn’t have a DNA and, in fact, wouldn’t even be in existence, without their hard work and dedication. THANK YOU!
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