December 2011

Creating a Blank Canvas: A Christmas Story

“So this is Christmas… and what have you done?” –John Lennon

Here we are in the holiday season, approaching the end of one calendar year and the dawn of a new one. However, just because something is ending, it doesn’t necessarily follow that it’s truly complete.  Surely you’ve experienced something being finished, maybe a project or a certain relationship, about which there still remains something unresolved for you. I know I have.

I’m inviting you to look with me and see if that’s the case with this year- and if it is, to clean the slate and give yourself the opportunity to create 2012 from a blank canvas.

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Vision, Mission and Values

I have, over the past dozen or so years, spent many hours reading the Mission, Purpose, Vision, and Values Statements of organizations I have encountered. It seems that somewhere along the line, as a community, we have gotten confused about what these statements are, what they offer, and how they can serve the organization over time. I have seen companies write mission statements as if they were writing marketing slogans. Others take their values, inscribe them in stone and place them in their lobby for all to see, never to be considered again. The values of Integrity, Communication, Respect, Excellence, were engraved in marble and stood in the lobby of Enron, perhaps the most glaring public example of the failure of a value statement to influence the behavior of people and of a company as a whole.

I figured that, as we begin the year, it is as good a time as any to have this conversation. What I will say here is not the only way to look at this. However, looking at the creation of these statements in this way, works. Using this model, an organization’s leadership can be clear about who they are, what they are setting out to accomplish, and how they will accomplish it.

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