One of the most important things any team can do is to figure out its true mission. I don't mean the corporate speak that all too often adorns the web pages and lobby walls of businesses everywhere. I also don't mean the goals, achievements, or end results that want to achieve when our work is completed - although those are very important too.
Look in any thesaurus, and some of the synonyms you'll see for “mission” are words like calling, vocation, and lifework. As a team, our mission needs to reflect the true passion we feel for how we want to change the world and make it a better place. Ultimately, this passion should drive us forward, direct our efforts, and give us a supreme sense of satisfaction.
Let me give you a real world example. In one of my favorite life roles, I am an assistant coach on my 11 year old son's little league baseball team. In such a simple setting, it would be quite easy to disregard the importance officially stating our team's mission, but that would be a mistake. Let's take a few examples:
Fun - it would be easy to say that our mission is to teach the kids that baseball is fun, and that is absolutely a mission for some teams (note: it is definitely one of our goals). However, what if the kids feel that practice is not much fun? Should we give in and only play games? Should we skip drills? How will the team, coaches, and parents handle it when we don't win many games? By choosing fun as a mission, we'd be driven to create an enjoyable environment above all else.
Winning - Winning is another noble mission. I mean, who doesn't like to win? But if that is our mission, then we might have to practice more than some families can handle. To stay true to our mission, we would only recruit and play the strongest kids, which may come at the expense of kids who are still developing their skills. If winning and sportsmanship ever came into conflict, we'd have to choose winning to remain true to our mission.
No, our true mission is not winning, and it's not to have fun. Our team's mission is to teach kids the process of playing winning baseball. We believe that learning how to practice, learning how to get better as an individual, learning to play as a team, learning how to have fun, and learning how to win are all part of a bigger journey. It is our job as coaches to teach this process because we believe that it will help our kids grow into better people.
Spread continuous improvement
At KaiNexus, we're on a mission too, and it has nothing to do with sales numbers, opportunities for improvement, or the financial impacts that our customers attain. Our mission at KaiNexus is to spread continuous improvement.
Our mission at KaiNexus is to spread continuous improvement.
We believe that every person in every organization across the world has a social responsibility to improve the world we live in. We play our part in this mission by enabling organizations to include every one of their employees in continuous improvement. Our continuous improvement software plays a key role in building such a culture, but at the end of the day, we will do or recommend anything that we feel will help continuous improvement to spread.
Having a defined mission matters.
Having a defined mission has helped us in so many ways. We are now able to explain that mission to potential customers and ultimately look for partners who share our same beliefs (this is a great Simon Sinek concept). Our mission also helps us to decide which features should and should not be included in future versions of KaiNexus. Our mission allows us to make consistent recommendations to customers during our KaiNexus implementation and support processes knowing that instilling the proper habits in our customers will ultimately help continuous improvement to spread. This improves safety, saves money, enhances quality, and ultimately makes the world a better place.
Whether your team is a small group or a large organization, I challenge you to spend some time defining your team's mission and why you do what you do. We'd love for you to share your mission with us in the comments below, and please don't hesitate to let me personally know if I can help in any way.
Best of luck, and let's spread continuous improvement together.