Getting back to first principles

Nov 19, 2020

Every leader knows that being able to describe the organisation’s vision and mission is a vital way of highlighting to your team what you are trying to do and in exchange show the value of their contribution to the bigger picture. There are whole chapters of textbooks set aside for more eloquent descriptions but that’s essentially what they do.

So, what is the vision and mission for your business? I’m serious – say it loud.
If it felt like you were parroting back the words, then that’s probably how it comes across.
Remember the purpose is to inspire action; take time to consider how you can bring the words to life. Your excitement and enthusiasm in the vision will be contagious, if its authentic. But the very first step in hooking others in is for it be understood by your audience.
If the words feel too vague or corporate then break them down further. You could try the WHYs exercise. You might have heard of the Five Why’s exercise, it is a great tool for coaching and strategy development and is great for stripping back layers to get to first principles.
Look at the vision that has been set and ask why that vision was in place. Then ask why again. And again until you get to a single clear statement.
So, lets use NASA as an example:
What's the vision?
We reach for new heights and reveal the unknown for the benefit of humankind
Well, why?
Because since ancient Greece mankind has looked to the stars for wonder
Well why?
Because we feel small when we look to the stars and there is the possibility that there are unknown wonders there
Because some of the findings so far have expanded our scientific knowledge exponentially
Because as humans we are limited in what we can learn, even with the best research tools available, and the answers may already be out there in the unknown.
You get the point; it is a useful tool to help understanding and sometimes through carrying out that exercise you can reach an aha moment or feel excited about what is behind the vision. This exercise can be done as a group or individually. It can be done to aid communication and test understanding (if you really want to see people squirm).
My advice is to do this as a written exercise – as you can see above there are a number of spinoff stories that you could use to help describe what your firm is about and why you show up every day.
Even if the goals are not as lofty as NASA’s there will still be a very human story behind why the organisation is doing what it does.
As a leader you’re so often rushing around, especially at the moment, that it can feel like a luxury to have the space to get pure about what you’re trying to do. At neon juno, we create packages that can give you space to get honest, get creative and get ready. Book in a call to talk through what we have to offer.

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