Derek Sidebottom

Why, What & Who

TBOP2017 ⋅ 4:41 ⋅ Filmed May 11, 2017

Do the traditional Vision, Mission, and Values still belong in today’s workplaces? Derek Sidebottom believes so — if they’re done right. Before you go searching for talent, or sign your next hire, take some time to work on your business and understand who you are, what you’re doing and why. But actually writing out these statements can be confusing and abstract — many companies end up with something wishy-washy and meaningless. Don’t let that happen to you! Using organizations like Google and Smithsonian as examples, Derek walks the audience through the process of creating a Mission, Vision and Values that is refined, precise and useful.


The best organizations I've ever worked with, the ones who win great workplaces. They tend to find why they exist, what they are doing and who's doing it, earlier and better than anyone else in the market. Because let's face it, more people means more problems. It's hard to organize larger groups. You were just a group of founder's yesterday with six people around you, what are these sixty people doing over here. And it comes up really fast. So if I look at this Pied Piper website, which if you actually Google Pied Piper this is the TV show website, ‘a middle-out comparison solution making data storage problems smaller’. Who cares? I mean, that's not interesting. That's not purpose. That's kind of what you do.

[00:48] The age old thing about vision, mission and values really differentiates and separates the awesome companies that have a great future and some of the companies that really struggle with, ‘What are we doing? Why are we doing it?’ I invite any entrepreneur very early on to say, ‘Who are you? And why do you exist as an organization?’ And it just goes back to vision.


[01:15] And everyone, whenever I'm doing consulting projects, are like ‘I don't understand what this vision thing is. It's kind of confusing? Doesn't it sound like mission?’ I literally put the same definition of every single time. Vision: If the organization were to achieve all of it strategic goals, what would it look like 10 years from now? And as an entrepreneur you're like, I just got off the ground here. I just got some funding. I don't want to have to think about this. I just want to live the next week. I'm telling you the differentiators between good and great spend time on this as a group.

[01:47] You look at the Smithsonian, and this is change the world stuff. This is exciting, right? ‘Shaping the future by preserving our heritage, discovering new knowledge, sharing our resources with the world’. Wow! I want to be part of that. That's an amazing vision.

[02:00] Of course, Google's [vision is], ‘provide access to the world's information in one click’. Ok, well maybe I'm not that inspired but it's pretty exciting stuff.

[02:08] I think all of the teams here today have done a very good job of expressing what they want to do. I think that's a great start.

[02:18] If that's vision and the 10 year story, well they're kind of made up of multiple missions to get there.


[02:44] So the mission statement, while some people kind of get confused on it, it's really the reason for existence. It describes the company, what it does, but it can change a lot because as the company shifts and pivots and solves problems, you may have 2-3 missions on your way to your vision.

[02:41] Anyone watch the Ted conferences online? Pretty great. I love watching them. I'm never qualified to do that but they do a pretty good job, but ‘Spreading Ideas’ as a mission. Public Broadcast (PBS), ‘To create content that educates, informs and inspires’. Setting that mission? Again, when you've got six people working for you, no problem. You talk around the water cooler. You get 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 100, 200, 300, not everyone's going to make the same decisions you do unless you set up this framework. So the best companies build this to scale from the early days.


[03:18] The Values. You 've got why and what's and then you get down to how. How do you want people to behave? Facebook is kind of legendary: ‘be bold, focus on impact, move fast, be open, build social value’. It can be simple. It can be aspirational. The point is you want to put and down and say, this is what we expect, how we want to interact, how we want to behave, who we are. Because when I go recruiting, it better fit into this. Otherwise, I end up with an organization that I designed, I hired for and I'm not happy with. And it's not helping me hit my dreams.

[03:53] I've talked to a number of founders, unfortunately, 5 or 6 years in going like, ‘I don't want to work with any of these people anymore. I don't like them’. And I kind of go, ‘Well, you've go a bit of a problem, don't you? Well, we're going to have to fix that. We're going to have to work through a change plan’. I'm always like just deal with it at the front door. Right? If you spend some time on it upfront, it doesn't start with the job description, it starts with answering there questions. And what does it take? A day? Maybe two and it saves you hours, hundreds of hours, thousands of hours, thousands of dollars. It's worth it.

[04:25] Vision, Mission, Values.

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