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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The mission statement

This image is from the Mission Statement page of SDC Construction Services -- a Portuguese company that has successfully expanded internationally, with U.S. headquarters in Miami.

So here I am, on Christmas night, in a quiet hotel lobby in Montreal, suddenly realizing that it is indeed time to define the business mission statement.

My influence: A truly influential book, The Secret Language of Leadership by Stephen Denning. Randy Pollock, editor of the SMPS Marketer, sent the book to me as a gift -- it arrived in the mail on Dec. 24 and went into my 'reading bag' as we started our brief Christmas vacation in Montreal.

The Mission Statement has been on the Action List since last year -- every time the due date for this project comes up, I've pushed it back; feeling in my heart that a Mission Statement is corporate gunk-talk; stuff for the people sitting around the table at endless meetings, not really knowing where they are going; or at worst, is platitudes and corporate-speak, designed to sell the business to itself -- and create a mirage image for the public.

But maybe I've had it wrong all along. Have I really thought about WHY we are in business; what our deep objectives are; and what we want to accomplish -- or do we just have a product, a market, and a sales methodology that sort of works, without respecting its implications in the marketplace as a whole.

And maybe the problem is that our existing Mission Statement is okay, but it came from the heart of someone no longer with the business, and is something I just paid lip-service to:
We are the Construction News and Report Group of Companies

We help to secure the ties that bind old and new relationships.

We provide word-of-mouth recommendations in print.

We work as a team to help strengthen your team.
Hmm, not bad, I think, now reading this. But where is the stuff that reaches my heart -- the passion, the desire for good journalism, the objective to build and enhance communities and correct problems and injustices? Where is the guidance, the support, the will to help the subcontractor struggling to find work; or the architect battling to find a place in the marketplace against overpowering competition. (Or, for that matter, how do these values relate to the well-run and successful corporation where solid business practices combine with practical understanding of the business to overtake the competition and succeed in virtually any market environment?)

Maybe I am ready to generate a more meaningful Mission Statement. Let me try this one on for size:
We are the Construction News and Report Group of Companies.

We support communities in the construction industry in achieving ethical growth.

We uplift individuals and businesses in achieving marketing insights and success.

We help to secure the ties that bind old and new relationships.

I'm not sure if this is the right statement; we will need to bounce it around; refine the message, think about the implications, and how it drives our passion. I would like to put more heart, more soul, more spirit into the mission statement.

So why is this so important all of a sudden? Well, I realized in a flash of insight tonight that I risk running a rudderless business, where our salespeople are working for money rather than a larager purpose-- where we are looking for short term objectives rather than long-term values; and I simply realized this won't take us to where we really want to go -- to be a business with international scope, leadership, and quality.

Leadership, says Denning, requires a passionate purpose -- you need to have something meaningful to lead before you can achieve much of significance. Just pushing out our papers (and websites) won't achieve this value. Just 'doing the job' won't achieve the higher level of meaningful accomplishment and greatness to differentiate us from all the other regular businesses out there. And I simply don't want to accept 'okay' as an answer -- good enough is, here, not good enough.

I want to share something beyond business as usual -- to communicate hope, adventure, love and respect. To help people work together; to bring communities to a richer space; to give the industry the tools to grow; to allow the entrepreneur to weather economic storms; to foster understanding and honor; to battle cynicism and blatant greed and hypocrisy. Most importantly, I want to elevate and honour the unsung heroes of our community; the subs who toil in the shadows; the consultants who live behind the scenes and help the big guys do their stuff so well; and yes, to the ethically run and well managed larger businesses who fuel the overall industry and have the capacity to handle the largest and most significant projects.

Now, I just have to boil these thoughts into a meaningful mission statement -- and that is going to take some work in the next few days. I certainly welcome your input.


Sonny Lykos said...

"We are the Construction News and Report Group of Companies

We help to secure the ties that bind old and new relationships.

We provide word-of-mouth recommendations in print.

We work as a team to help strengthen your team."

Mark, the unfortunate - let me say "very" unfortunate aspect of your "news and reporting" is the anemic, almost non-existent number of comments you've received on the blog. To me it shows that nearly all of the readers of his blog do not appreciate your time, nor the opportunity your blog offers to them by interacting with their peers.

With the lack of communicating and no interest in potentially learning anything from every available source open to them, it's no wonder our industry has an apparently deserved 88% + failure rate during the first 5 years of ownership.

I guess I'm an anomaly because I even read web site and periodicals from other industries, always looking out for anything, even something minor, that could be applied to my business to make it more effective and/or profitable. Every fraction of a percent does add up.

Construction Marketing Ideas said...

Sonny, your points are well taken.
In fairness, my reading is that only about 1 in 100 blog readers comment -- and not always regularly. Since our readership is about 100 a day thereabouts now (at present) the blog is getting about as many comments as I should expect.
Nevertheless, I also agree that most of the industry just doesn't get it when it comes to marketing. We can both see that in the forums we read -- and these forums are populated by the small percentage of the industry with above average understanding of things.
We cannot of course change anyone else (it is hard enough to 'change' ourselves). I'll be happy to provide a resource and certainly appreciate your input -- and of course welcome the insights and opinions of others as the blog traffic increases.

Sonny Lykos said...

Mark, in 1971 when I started my "handyman" business, I would have given anything to have had these forums and blogs available to me. Then again, I was, and am still not a know-it-all.

So I suggest that most of your readers that never post any comments are quite younger than my 65 years.

"Smart" business owners, and employees of business owners know they never stop learning, and never stop asking questions. All I can say is I pity their associates and customers.

Remember in one of my posts in one of your columns that I once read, and believe, that successful people 1) Always keep themselves in a position to take advantage of opportunities when they arise, and 2) Have the ability to recognize those opportunities.

Unfortunately, I guess you have a lot of dumb readers. Typical - people are so blind to what's in front of them.

Time for a cup of coffee, and a little hard copy reading, my new issue of Harvard Business Review.