Aug. 25, 2020

Ep 11: Business Strategy: Anchoring on Mission and Vision

Ep 11: Business Strategy: Anchoring on Mission and Vision

Mission and Vision statements are mocked as much as anything in the business world - arguably because they are often not done well and are completely disconnected from reality. In this episode that kicks off our series on business strategy, we start at the beginning with mission and vision - how the two are different, why they are matter, and what they have to do with authenticity.

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{"version":"1.0.0","segments":[{"speaker":"Stephanie Chambliss Gaffin ","startTime":0.0,"body":"A quick Google search reveals that there are nearly 17 million memes dedicated to company mission and vision. And a scan of the first page of results shows that many are pretty funny. But why is this such a common target for humor, or more precisely mockery and cynicism. In today's episode, we kick off our series on business strategy by going back to basics about what mission and vision are, how they differ, and why they matter. \n\nWelcome to Right in the Middle Market, a podcast about pragmatic perspectives on running, growing and selling your business. We talk about the challenges, decisions, and most importantly, the actions business owners can take to create long term value in their companies. \n\nWelcome to Right in the Middle Market, a podcast about running growing and selling your middle market business. On today's episode, we want to kick off a new series talking about strategy and strategic planning. Now depending on your natural inclination this may either really excite you, or sound like the most dull thing you could possibly think about. Hopefully, it's not the latter. But what we really want to do, starting with today's episode and across these next several episodes on this topic, is to take a very pragmatic bend. And I know you hear us use that word all the time. But strategy is not something that is abstract, it is not something- or at least it shouldn't be something that is abstract. It is something that when done, well, really can help to drive the efficient and effective operation of an organization. So we're going to cover a number of different topics on upcoming episodes. But we want to start today with mission and vision. And I'm here with my co host, Mark Gaffin. And Mark, we were talking about this as we were planning this episode, but I guess the first question is aren't mission and vision the same thing?\n"},{"speaker":"Mark Gaffin ","startTime":116.0,"body":"No, they're not. And I think if you think the whole arc of strategy planning, which I'm really excited that we are kicking off, I think it's an incredibly important part. I think people don't like the outcomes because they may be either haven't invested in the process correctly, or were not optimized around what we're trying to get out of this. So I think that if you think of a company, an organization is a complex adaptive system, right? It's related. All these things are related. How do we get culture aligned? How do we get our vision for where we want to be? How do we get our mission, what we do every day to achieve that mission? And then the strategy and goals and objectives which we'll talk about in future episodes, I think align along those fronts. What's interesting, I think, if you look at companies over time, why do they tend to fade? Why do they tend to, you know, go out of business or just become early sub optimal potential earners. And only 9% of companies over ten years actually earned their cost of capital. So why is that? Why do you see margin fade? Why do you see relevance paid? And I would argue, it's because we don't have potentially a good vision, we don't have a good mission, and we don't adapt both of those to dynamic things as they go forward. These are forward looking things that we need to change. In concert with that we'll talk about this or strategy goals, tactics and objectives. But I think for today's episode, thinking about how do you harness a vision? How do you harness a mission? And then what are the knock on effects there of culture, attracting retaining people, attract resources, and being a clear candidate for external capital potentially in the sale?\n"},{"speaker":"Stephanie Chambliss Gaffin ","startTime":226.0,"body":"One of the things I guess when I think about mission and vision, I really like the construct that mission is about what you do today. And vision is about who you want to be tomorrow. And so if we dig in to that a little bit, so mission then is talking about, we're talking about the What, we're talking about the How of what a company does, but vision, vision is aspiration. And it should be inspiring. We like to talk a lot about a B HAG, right? A big, hairy, audacious goal, but it should be something that gets to the heart of the why. And that, to me is why it's so important to have the vision in addition to the mission. Now there are companies that put them in the same statement. I don't think anybody should ever feel you have to have separate statements, you have to have, but to be able to say, look, there's a component of this that is aspirational. There's a component of this that is descriptive, but you've got to find kind of that beautiful balance in between of it is inspirational without being overly vague, and connects so that somebody should be to hear your mission and vision statement to have at least some sense of what it is that you do, how it is that you're doing it, but see where it is that you're going. Why are you doing that?\n"},{"speaker":"Mark Gaffin ","startTime":312.0,"body":"Right? I think one of the ways to start then is maybe from the mission and move out to vision, and then down to goals and strategy, right? Because you're a functioning organization, we're assuming right? What gets you out of bed? What do you do better than somebody else? Why do you do what you do? Whether you're an interior decorator or a printing company or something else, there's something about it that makes you get up in the morning, start early, get going and want to be the best at it. You're doing something people haven't done before. You're doing it cheaper so other people can access that, so that mission then I think is maybe arguably a place to start. And then the vision can be to your point aspirational. What does the world look like when first successful?\n"},{"speaker":"Stephanie Chambliss Gaffin ","startTime":362.0,"body":"See now and of course, for me, being a less structured person than you are, I think about it as if you are starting from scratch, which most of our listeners are not going to be. Most of them probably have something, start with where your heart is. There are some people who are wired to think about the aspiration, and then to be able to start to come down to the more concrete. Others need to start with a concrete and then be able to take something more aspirational. But I think in the end, you have to have both. Because if you have the vision without the mission, right, it's the dream without a plan, it becomes something that is inevitably going to be empty because it's just a vision with no sense of how to get there. If you have the mission without the vision, when you know what it is that you're doing and how you're doing it. But it's probably going to be relatively uninspired because there's no why. There's no big goal that we're shooting for across time.\n"},{"speaker":"Mark Gaffin ","startTime":422.0,"body":"Let me read from you what I think is maybe a counter. This is from the BBC. So what is the mission statement of the BBC? So the mission statement, the BBC, the British Broadcasting Corporation, is, I'm gonna quote this \"To enrich people's lives with programs and services that inform, educate and entertain.\" What do we do? Who do we do it for? Kind of how do we do it? And I love their purposes, which they as a public company, put underneath that. And these are a little more detailed. It's sustaining citizenship in civil society, promoting education and learning and those of you watched BBC would argue that that's certainly right. Stimulating creativity cultural excellence, representing the UK, its nations reaches communities. Conversely, bringing the UK to the world and the world to the UK, and delivering the public benefit of emerging communication technologies and services. I really like those. To me, those tell me what they do. This is their mission. This is how they do what they do. And unfortunately, I think if I look at their vision statement, we love your thoughts on this. The vision statement is to be the most creative organization in the world. I would argue that, that goes a little too far in the other direction.\n"},{"speaker":"Stephanie Chambliss Gaffin ","startTime":503.0,"body":"But does it? I mean, I think there could be a question about how much connection is there between the vision and the mission. So if I listen to the mission statement that you read, and then take it back to the vision statement, how much did I hear creativity and innovation in the mission statement? But to me, if that is what they believe will differentiate them, I would have to agree. It's a little bit generic, maybe, right? It's not as specific. You could apply that to a number of different companies.\n"},{"speaker":"Mark Gaffin ","startTime":542.0,"body":"Right. And I'm not disagreeing with you on aspirational, but I think you need to be able to attach to it, right? The most creative organization in the world, I love that. I mean, I get what they're trying to do, but it's hard, there's a lot, you know, Adobe, whatever. I mean, there's a lot of people out there that are very, super creative. Apple. So, to be the most creative is a little, maybe a little, nebulous for me. As much as I love the BBC.\n"},{"speaker":"Stephanie Chambliss Gaffin ","startTime":571.0,"body":"Right. It surprises me, I guess to say that that's the BBC. So let me give another example. So Ted. most of us know TED Talks, I love Ted Talks. So their mission, two words, spread ideas. And I love that simplicity. Their vision is, \"We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately the world.\" So if I look at those two as an example, their clear, their succinct. Their mission is absolutely about what they do. Now it doesn't get into the how they do it or for whom, although my guess is that there's probably a longer version of the mission statement somewhere that probably addresses some of those. But the idea is they spread ideas. But their vision gets into why, because we believe passionately, not just we believe, but we believe passionately, in the power of ideas, to change attitudes, lives and ultimately the world. And so that to me, there's a very clear connection between the mission and the vision. The mission is about what they do. And the vision is about the why and the aspiration.\n"},{"speaker":"Mark Gaffin ","startTime":643.0,"body":"Yeah, and I guess, again, I don't beat on the BBC. But if you compare those two, right, you're like, man, aspirational. And I can see where we're headed with with Ted Talks and you look at all the different things that Ted had done right with there's there's the TED and then I think you've been involved with TEDx here locally.\n"},{"speaker":"Stephanie Chambliss Gaffin ","startTime":663.0,"body":"Yep. Yeah. So TEDx, which, and again, if you tie that back to their mission, right, and to say, so why would I have these wonderful premier events, the TED events that people clamor to go to, and you have to apply and be accepted to go to one of these Ted events. And so why on earth would they potentially dilute their brand with local events? Well, if our mission is to spread ideas, then of course, I want to do local events. Because I want to engage in local conversations. I want to spread ideas locally, I want to have ways and different forum to be able to get people engaged in these different ideas.\n"},{"speaker":"Mark Gaffin ","startTime":703.0,"body":"Yeah, so to me, if I were to strategy session again with this will be down the road. But if you and I were whiteboarding ideas with the folks at TED about coming up with TEDx, right, well, wait, is that dilute? You know, Ted, or does it? No, it's actually very consistent with the mission and the vision. It's very consistent. It might be slightly different quality, though I've looked at some TEDx stuff and been blown away by the people that are out there. But it is another channel, they're on YouTube. They do everything they can to make TEDx content available, because that's consistent with our mission to getting that out there so people can access it.\n"},{"speaker":"Stephanie Chambliss Gaffin ","startTime":742.0,"body":"But I think you brought up another important point about the mission and vision. The mission, ultimately, in particular, the vision as well, but should be, to me should be a litmus test for the actions of the organization. So, many years ago, I used to work at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in downtown Chicago. And the mission was in two words, there was a slightly longer version, that we're an academic medical center where the patient comes first. And in two words, it was patients first. And what I loved about that mission statement was, first of all, it's been how many since I worked there, and I can still articulate it without any hesitation, but it actively came into conversations that we had. I can't tell you the number of times we'd be sitting around a table wrestling with an issue, trying to make a decision, thinking about the right thing to do and what decision we should make. And inevitably, somebody around the table would say, Okay, guys, hang on, what's the right thing to do for the patient? And it would reframe the conversation instantly and usually became really clear. This is the right thing to do for the patient. And that is what's most important to us as an organization. And so to me, a mission statement is one that makes it really clear what are the priorities that the organization so that it should be something that can assist in day to day decisions and activities?\n"},{"speaker":"Mark Gaffin ","startTime":831.0,"body":"Yeah, I would argue it's important in all the things that people talk about, which sometimes they think just happened generically, right? Culture. So this is linked. You think about it, if you have a very clear, compelling mission statement and a vision statement. And I wanted to join a patient centric organization, right? It's that, that's what we do. Right? If I want to join Amazon, because Amazon's got all these innovations, because they want to do things to bring products and services to people. Anything the people want, anytime, you should be able to get through Amazon, is kind of their goal. If you think of a Walmart, you know, saving, helping people live better lives by saving more. So those things are very clear, right? It's bound up in their culture. So I think that helps with the kind of leaders that you have in the organization that you see, to your point, a litmus test, who's leading, managing and operating, it's consistent with the way we want the company to operate?\n"},{"speaker":"Stephanie Chambliss Gaffin ","startTime":890.0,"body":"And I think in an era of transparency, which is one of the things that you see changing with technology, you know, years ago, decades ago, it used to be that somebody might have a work persona and a private persona or personal persona. It might be that there are, there's a way that I am at work in a way that I am outside of work. And I think one of the things that we see changing with personal branding, with online presence, is that you know, what you are, who you are. And there's a wonderful aspect to that of a whole movement around bringing our whole selves to work and very important message there around diversity and inclusion. But I think it also comes to this point of mission and vision. Because if my mission is, I'll keep using the example of patients first, but on a day to day basis, those who interact with the organization aren't seeing that, then the overall organization is going to come off as inauthentic. And I would argue they are. I'm not saying that organization is, but any organization where I should be able to look at the mission and say that my experience mimcs what I'm seeing. I'm going to use another example, and unfortunately, I'm not going to be able to quote it quite correctly. But Nike, and you know, they've got a great mission statement about empowering every athlete. But what I love is there's an asterisk by the word athlete. And what they define in subtext is, in every human who has a body is an athlete. And so, I guess I'm back to this concept of inclusiveness. But now I look at it and say, well, do they live up to that? Absolutely. Look at the ads that they put out, look at their support of athletes like Tatyana McFadden and other Paralympic athletes. Look at what they do to encourage not just elite athletes, not just those who are already fit. And I would say at least in their advertising, I don't have a lot of personal interaction with the company, but at least in their advertising, yeah, they live up to it.\n"},{"speaker":"Mark Gaffin ","startTime":1023.0,"body":"Yeah, I think that's right. And I think that, where we talk about to your point of inclusion, and I'm here, I'm going to talk about people like the front line, right? And then your strategic planning process. Overall, if you're not taking inputs from those people, the people that actually work with the clients, the people that work with customers, and I think you're cheating the strategic planning process. But I think what we have then is that vision and mission that permeate the organization. It's that desk clerk back when Nordstrom was open, and you could go into Nordstrom, I'm not gonna pick on Nordstrom, I love the store. But you know, those people had a mission, right. They knew how to act, they knew what to do with customers. And their return policy was, you know, sometimes taken advantage of but many people understood that this is the way we're going to treat our customer. You don't have to look it up, this is the culture we have. And that's really based on how we view the customers.\n"},{"speaker":"Stephanie Chambliss Gaffin ","startTime":1078.0,"body":"Alright, so hopefully we've gotten a good understanding of what mission and vision are, I want to dive into some of the pragmatic applications of it right after we come back from a word from our sponsor. \n\nRight in the Middle Market is brought to you by The Gaffin Group, a full service business consulting firm. The Gaffin Group works closely with middle market companies tackling the big challenges of today's environment and capturing the value enhancing growth opportunities of tomorrow. Too often, dogma, platitudes or wish lists, get confused with strategy, then it's no small wonder that execution can be muddled. The Gaffin Group principals work closely with company boards, executives and their teams to seek pragmatic, tangible results. They provide comprehensive advisory services across strategic, financial, operational and merger and acquisition capabilities. All framed by the fundamental belief that real strategy drives real results. The Gaffin Group is focused on delivering robust practical insights and fact based pragmatic solutions. Their services are designed to support their clients profitable growth and sustainable long term value creation. Go to to learn more about how the Gaffin group can help you and your company. \n\nWelcome back. I'm here with my co-host, Mark. And today we are talking about mission and vision. And so in the first part, I think we've hopefully given a pretty good exploration of what the two are, how they work together. Mission is about what you're doing today. Vision is where you want to be tomorrow, it's the aspiration. So there of course, there's an awful lot of good fun and good humor. And I would say appropriately so the number of memes I think that we could probably find around what is you know, making fun of mission and vision. There's, I mean, it would be a huge search, right? I am scared to think what the Google result would be on that. But the reason for that, I think goes back to that point of authenticity. Too often, the mission statement is something that is trite, it's not seen as authentic, it doesn't guide decision making. It's inconsistent with how we act.\n"},{"speaker":"Mark Gaffin ","startTime":1213.0,"body":"That's exactly right. That's exactly right. And I know I pick up on these posters that people throw up on the walls, it's got people rowing, it says teamwork, it's got someone else, rugby players, and it's group, whatever. And it's like, that's not what we're driving for. Right? This really is important. This really is about, you know, what we do in really behind the scenes, here's what we really do better than somebody else. What's our competitive advantage? It's really embedded behind that mission statement. So it's worth investing in. And quite frankly, it's dynamic. It's something that's going to change over time. I think if you've talked to a 30 year old client, what percentage of your revenue is earned by doing things the way you did and the products that you sold 15 years ago, they'd say none, right? That's because they really have adapted even if they've adapted in the background. And so, you will see people that will do a vision statement and do a mission statement. They have it done tick, tick, the boxes are ticked, I think you're really short sighting your company. I know you've facilitated a number of these things, and people get a bad reputation because people go out to a retreat. And, you know, I've been a part of these things, you're doing jumping jacks and burpees. And you come up with, you know, colors and stuff like that, but, and you have a whole bunch of goals and lists of things, none of which are operational none of which are coherent. To your point earlier, held against that mission statement. You know, so I mean, how would you look if you were doing a strategy, retreat, how would you incorporate using the mission and vision visit would you start there, would you look at it?\n"},{"speaker":"Stephanie Chambliss Gaffin ","startTime":1314.0,"body":"So, I always start there, right? And first of all, you start there in the preparation as you're working with the senior executives that have asked you to come in for this retreat and to start with, what is the overall mission and vision of the organization? And, you know, tell me a little bit about the history of that, because I think that's important to understand. If it is the same mission and vision that was created when the company was founded, you know, 25 years ago, then it's probably worth the conversation about, how often do you revisit this? Is there a sense that this is still dynamic? Is it still relevant? Is it time to update? It may be, it may not be. There are some that are written in a way that they are evergreen. But I think you have to ask that question. I think then the next thing that I do is you know, tell me about how does that come down into the decision making of the organization? We've talked about decision making in prior episodes, and it's something that I'm just so passionate about. Because I think ultimately, when we look at companies, and when we assess a company, when we value a company, we're really looking at the cumulative impact of the decisions that they've made. So I want to understand how is the mission and vision coming down into the decisions that the organization is making. If it is not coming into decision making in a very real and vibrant way, it's either because we haven't set that habit, or it's because there's a disconnect between the mission and vision of what's actually happening today in the company. So, let's say, once we've had all those conversations, and again, that's in preparation, so then as we come into the retreat, what I think is important is to actually have that conversation with everybody, and to get everybody starting to think about that. And ideally, you have a little bit of debate about it. It's, you know, if everybody looks at it, and nods and says, yep, we're all good. I mean, I guess that's good for consensus, but you know, it's probably not a very colorful conversation. And I love it when I could get a group to, you know, have a couple of people that push the thinking and come around to hopefully we've now either re-embrace, and said, Yeah, you know what this really is what we're about. We're sometimes you come out of that and say, Wow, things have really changed and there are some aspects of that. But to me, again, it should be that litmus test. I know I've said that before. But as you then proceed in the process of talking about goals and objectives, and I know that's something we're going to talk about in a future episode. But this is the bar that you bring all of those things back to just say, is this consistent with who we are, as an organization? It may be a fabulous idea, it may be a really exciting opportunity. But if it is fundamentally inconsistent with the mission and vision of the organization, one would argue that it really is not a place we should be investing resources.\n"},{"speaker":"Mark Gaffin ","startTime":1498.0,"body":"Yeah, and you could think of this as, if you took the strategy process, planning is looking way down the road. So when you're in your meeting, to me, I think it would be great to pressure test, right? The vision and the mission statement so that the vision statement may not, it's probably not going to change that much. Because I think that's where we want to be. But look, if you're in some company or an industry that has been kind of disintermediated, by technology, your mission statement probably is going to be changed, right? I mean, I don't think you're going to be cranking out solar powered calculators at this point anymore, if you've got the iPhone,\n"},{"speaker":"Stephanie Chambliss Gaffin ","startTime":1535.0,"body":"Well, but I would argue, your vision, your true vision probably shouldn't have been that specific anyway. The examples that we've given here today, I would argue your mission and your vision should be able to transcend some of that evolution. Again, always good to go back and ask the question, and I think this comes back to a question that we got in recently about, Do I have to change my mission and vision because of everything that's happened in 2020?\n"},{"speaker":"Mark Gaffin ","startTime":1566.0,"body":"Yeah, and I would argue, hopefully not. I mean I think if you were a printing press company, right, you're really, really good at it. Ultimate what is really, really changed, you have to be good at that you got to keep dealing with your clients and meeting deadlines and being innovative, keeping cost down, keeping features up. So people want to continue to use your product. People still need, what you're doing. I think what's interesting about that vision and mission, if it is robust, it gives people maybe one thing right now that they're like, yeah, that's still like it was. So how we get there, may change between, if we were all sitting around tactically talking about goals and strategies and objectives over the next six to nine months, that may very much have changed, I would argue, and I'm gonna say probably 80% of the time, that the overall where we're trying to get to hasn't changed that much for a vast majority of the companies.\n"},{"speaker":"Stephanie Chambliss Gaffin ","startTime":1620.0,"body":"So about 20 years ago, there was a popular business book, it was one of these, you know, small book, easy to read, called Who Moved My Cheese? Do you remember this one? And I actually used it with my team when it came out, and again, this was about 20 years ago, I'm dating myself. But what I thought was interesting is very much what you're talking about, which is the really the lesson or at least the takeaway that I've always had in that book is, don't hang your hat, don't identify with the process, identify with the outcome. And the team that I was working with at the time was truly going through a period of hyper change, no hyperbole there. It was truly hyper change. And no question, we're in a period of hyper change right now. And when I finally worked with my team on, it was to say, Look, don't hang your hat on how we do it. Because you know what, not only can I tell you that it might change, I will tell you that it will change. Because we're trying to do something new, we're trying to do something that's never been done before. So it is going to have to change as we continue to learn and iterate to make sure that we get this to something that will work. Eventually, the process will stabilize, but not anytime soon. So don't hang your hat on how we do things. Don't hang your hat and find your satisfaction in your job and your security in, I do step A and then B and then C. Hang your hat on the outcome.\n"},{"speaker":"Mark Gaffin ","startTime":1707.0,"body":"One of the points that I thought was really interesting about strategic planning process, and we'll go to this process as well, is don't let the rotation of the Earth around the Sun dictate your strategic planning process. And I put that in these two things in that as well. I mean, could you imagine if in October, we went off to the ballroom of the hotel, we sat there for three days and we came up with our strategy. We didn't bother touching our mission statement. We came up with everything we did our budgets and- March.\n"},{"speaker":"Stephanie Chambliss Gaffin ","startTime":1738.0,"body":"You're talking about October of 2019?\n"},{"speaker":"Mark Gaffin ","startTime":1740.0,"body":"Yes October of 2019. So we kind of talked about his before, I'm a big proponent of this, is these are ongoing processes. So I think your budget process is very distinct, related to, but very distinct from the strategy process. And we'll talk about both of those. I think that this mission here, it's a tool, it's a great part of, How are we using this to steer? This takes a little less, you know, it's not whipsawing around. How do we test? Explore versus exploit? How do we do that so we make sure that our testing in be it an analyst or a team that's looking at, Well maybe that is a market segment we want to be. How deep is it? How much is it growing? Can we penetrate it? Can we make money there? But we aren't going to change the mission statement today, we're not gonna change everything we're gonna explore that, and then if we need to adapt, if it truly matches with what we think we're good at, then we do it. Otherwise people they don't have it, they have every weak mission statement or weak vision of the company, then you see him going all over the place. And they do a whole bunch of stuff, not very well.\n"},{"speaker":"Stephanie Chambliss Gaffin ","startTime":1805.0,"body":"A good, well written, compelling mission and vision statement, spurs creativity. Because it makes it very clear, that's where I'm going, right? That's where I'm going. That's what I'm trying to achieve. And so if you look at an environment like 2020, where all of a sudden the way that we used to do it just went away. Very suddenly, very dramatically. So it can be very unsettling. But if I have that anchor, I have that outcome, and that's what I'm focused on, I can look at that and say, Alright, that is still my mission. That is still my vision. I can't do it the way it used to, but that's still where I'm going, so how else am I going to get there? So on that point, we're going to wrap up two pragmatic tips. Let's keep it to two. So why don't you do one and then I'll do one to wrap up our episode.\n"},{"speaker":"Mark Gaffin ","startTime":1859.0,"body":"I think the first one I would ask people to do, I think we had a great interview this morning with a deal attorney we talked about what would be a pragmatic tip for them, if people are not ready right now to do a sale. They talked about value drivers, which are very, very important. What are the value drivers in my company? How do you know whether it's a value driver, not? Well, guess what? If it's aligned with your mission statement, it's valuable. If it's not aligned with your mission statement, it's really not. And so, I would ask people to look at your mission statement, your vision statement, do you think it really articulates where you are, what you do, what you're about and where you're going? And if not, this is a perfect time to kind of get that buttoned up, because I think that kind of robustness helps you, helps your clients, helps your team and helps your culture be resilient through these times.\n"},{"speaker":"Stephanie Chambliss Gaffin ","startTime":1912.0,"body":"So my pragmatic tip, I'm going to come back to decision making, because I think it's so important. So I'm going to challenge you to look at a decision that you're making today, and actively bring your mission and vision into that decision making process. Hopefully, it's something a little more complex than what am I doing for lunch today? But to think about, how can I use those? And I would say, if you struggle to do that, you're probably out of touch with your mission and vision. Now, that may not mean that your mission and vision are out of touch, but to me, that's a really good way to gauge whether you are still engaged with, aligned with and mentally you really are thinking about that mission and vision.\n"},{"speaker":"Mark Gaffin ","startTime":1969.0,"body":"Do you think companies have to be a certain size before you do this, or a certain age before you worry about these things?\n"},{"speaker":"Stephanie Chambliss Gaffin ","startTime":1976.0,"body":"Absolutely not. I think you can argue with a small or an early stage company. Let me start with early stage, an early stage company, you may want to be a little more flexible to say, look, as we learned this may change, but I still would rather have a vision and a clear place of where I'm going, knowing that I may have to change it six months or a year down the road, than to just be meandering and have no vision. I'd rather have that inspiration. I'd rather have that why, and to have that clear mission statement.\n"},{"speaker":"Mark Gaffin ","startTime":2013.0,"body":"Right. And wouldn't you argue that that's probably in every pitch deck we do for VCs on cap raises? \n"},{"speaker":"Stephanie Chambliss Gaffin ","startTime":2018.0,"body":"Oh, absolutely. I mean, it's the first thing that the VC is going to ask us when we are talking with someone about a capital raise, or quite frankly, when we're doing a sell side engagement. So this is on our transaction side and not just on our consulting side, it comes in, because they want to understand who is this company. And then back to that point of authenticity. They're going to be looking then as they get to know the company to say is that there, is this genuinely who they are. But they want to be able to know, this is the company, this is what they seek to achieve. And then they're going to look for consistency with that.\n"},{"speaker":"Mark Gaffin ","startTime":2052.0,"body":"That's how you say, what problem are you trying to solve? Is this the right team? Of course, it's right team, but it was the right team, to lead it. So those are questions for any company. I think if we run our companies that way, at all times, that we are maximally valued for attracting external capital, be it for growth or if you want to sell,. But for our kind of running, growing and selling your business, I think this fits in every one of those areas and it makes you a more robust company, it makes you more focused company, and therefore more valuable company.\n"},{"speaker":"Stephanie Chambliss Gaffin ","startTime":2085.0,"body":"And on that note, I'm Stephanie Chambliss Gaffin, and you've been listening to Right in the Middle Market, a podcast about running, growing and selling your middle market business. We'd love to hear your comments about today's episode or ideas for topics you'd most like to hear in the future. Specifically, if you have questions about strategy or strategic planning that you'd like to hear later on in this series, let us know. Send me a message on LinkedIn or drop me a line at Don't forget to subscribe, and until next time, be well and be inspired.\n\n"}]}