We see mission statements and there’s always a mix between those that are very abstract and try to be all things to all people and those that are actually describing activities rather than what they are trying to achieve. Compare these two mission statements:
“We are strongly committed to our customers. Our ambition is to provide meaningful benefits to all our customers. We listen closely and align our activities to their needs. Our goal is the improvement of their overall quality of life, and being a trustworthy and reliable partner in their wellbeing”
“We want to ease the suffering of the sick and injured, by developing powerful, safe, pain-relieving drugs”
What differences and similarities do you notice? They are in faction mission statements from the same organisation around the same purpose, and yet you wouldn’t know from the first version what they actually did, it could be any organisation.
I’ve found the Value Proposition by Design and Business Model for Teams book effective in helping craft a mission statement that sets out the value your team brings to the people it wants to serve.
I’ve found that for corporate teams whose role is to support an organisation, learning from the value propositions of agencies is particularly helpful, as the latter really do need to not just define what they do but distinguish themselves by what additionality they create. Take a look for example, at the Innovation Unit, Snook and FutureGov’s value propositions, in how they describe the direct impact they have on the organisations they work with and the wider impact this helps the organisations have on their own audiences.
What are the most powerful mission statements or value proposition you’ve seen? How have you developed yours for your team or service?
To work a mission statement or value proposition needs to be broken down into:
- Who are the people your team or service wants to serve
- What needs you to help each of those groups of people meet
- What ways of working, skills and partners you use to meet those needs
- What impact you have on the groups of people as a result of the above
1. Who are the people your team or service wants to serve?
In terms of who your team/service wants to serve, it’s important to distinguish who you directly support and who you indirectly support. You may indirectly support residents or the general public, but you might directly support frontline services to do that themselves.
In the strategy, change, service design or partnership teams I’ve led, I’ve always tried to make sure we are clear who are the people we’re here to support and what needs we help them meet. That means that we have distinguished the value we provide to the
- the senior leadership of the organisation (i.e. enabling the senior leadership to work well together to anticipate strategic challenges and develop solutions together to tackle them, helping improve the reputation of the borough & council to its residents, partners & regulators)
- our frontline services (i.e. making it easier for frontline staff to solve problems at the point of contact with residents)
- our strategic partners or anchor institutions (i.e. supporting local organisation to better secure funding & investment to improve our impact on the borough’s 4 strategic challenges)
- residents in our local communities we work with directly (i.e. helping residents develop skills in commissioning services and activities)
2. What are the needs you help each of those groups of people meet?
When identifying the different needs you help each of those groups of people meet, I find it helpful to take a design approach, where you speak to those groups about what their needs are and what opportunities there are too. These may be functional needs — like redesigning service to meet the needs of residents. They may also be more social or reputational needs — like improving the reputation of the borough to national decision-makers. They may also be opportunities they or you have identified they want to take advantage of or even create, like building on the success of working with young people to redesign services to help them develop a youth cooperative.
These should be two-way conversations where you’re creating the space for them to share their needs and opportunities and for you to share lessons you’ve learnt, ideas you have they could take on, or inspiration from elsewhere. You could even use this valuable work detector:
When you’ve identified those insights, you can then develop a set of user journeys for each of those stakeholders that tells the story of how your team can help them increase their impact.
Imaginary story from the future
- “By taking part in a show & tell on x issue, I shared feedback on how could improve x process from my own experience as frontline staff.
- I then took up the invitation to come to a problem-solving clinic on that particular issue and one thing led to another and I agreed to design & test with my own service how we could improve how we do XYZ.
- We did some deep dives with people who use our service and our key partners, supported by people from the x team which gave us great insights.
- Along with another experiment they had done with other services, we developed some useful tools that we’ve started to use. The results have made life easier for us and have freed up more time to work directly with residents, and our partners are now using those business planning tools too! I’ve since been asked to share our service’s use of the tools at the next show & tell
You could break it down by having a different user journey for each group of people you’re serving:
- As a member of staff, I will better be able to understand how my council will support communities through 2021 (x strategy), what is expected of me and how I will be supported (x programme), and how my contribution and that of my team links into its wider outcomes (x OD plan)
- I will readily be able to access & contribute evidence that helps the organisation achieve its outcomes (x strategy) and use the data & tools to work in an agile way to adapt my service to meet the needs of residents (x tools) and be freed up to work with others locally to devolve power to residents (x programme).
- I will be able to work with others delivering a similar outcome to better target our spending and maximise social value from providers I commission (x social value strategy). I will see what other services are delivering or planning to identify ways we can pool our resources and tackle new issues together and avoid duplication (x programme).
- As a partner, I will better be able to understand how the council will support communities through 2021 (x strategy) and the outcomes it intends to achieve (x framework) so I can see how best my organisation can contribute to these in terms of the resources we can provide (x programme).
- I will readily be able to access & contribute evidence that helps Camden achieve its outcomes (x programme) and share data & tools to work in an agile way with the borough to meet the needs of residents (x tools) and our neighbourhoods on specific calls to action (x programme).
- I will be able to see what the council is delivering or planning out in the open to better identify & suggest to the council ways we could pool our resources and tackle new issues together and avoid duplication (x approach).
- As a resident, I will better be able to know what my council is trying to achieve to improve the quality of life of myself and my communities in the long term (x campaign) and daily through the interactions I have with its staff (x experience), and how I can help do my bit (x programme)
- I can readily see what evidence it is using to make decisions (x platform) and see what issues I can provide my own insights & lived experience to help improve services (x platform) and help redesign services in my own neighbourhood (x programme).
- I can see how it spends its money and makes sure every pound adds to the social value of the local area through specific pledges (x tool). I will be able to see how it is responding to changing environment — what it has delivered, what is in progress or has changed and what challenges it needs to tackle (x platform).
In my next post, I will blog about the ways of working, skills and partners you use to meet those needs and the impact you might have.