YOU’RE ABOVE THE WATER LINE, BUT WHERE ARE YOU GOING?
After 2 years as a “guest” and 2 years on the faculty, I decided to go BACK to the Institute for Organization Management this year as a student! As I “fast-track” across the country this summer, I will run into some brilliant instructors I’ve seen present at State conferences and other Institute sites over the years…faculty members I’m sure many of you will remember…each with a powerful message to deliver. Last week was my first stop: Madison, Wisconsin and the Midwest Institute Class 1-1. There, I was fortunate to have classes with David Aaker, Sarah Birnbach, Bob Harris, Bill Graham and others, and I found a theme that ran straight and clear through several sessions. MISSION DRIFT!
So what IS Mission Drift? The definition I came up with last week is when you move slowly (or maybe NOT so slowly) away from your organization’s mission, eventually realizing you’re in the weeds. Have you ever been busy working on the next big event for your organization, only to be taken a bit off course by the next phone call, the next email, the next fire that needed to be put out? By the time you get back to the event you were working on, you very well may have lost track of WHY you were doing it in the first place.
Here are just a few ideas that can help you identify and save yourself from sailing too far off course:
- Review your organization’s Mission Statement. You do have one, right? If you don’t have one, WRITE ONE! If you have one, make sure it’s EVERYWHERE! Why have a web site if your Mission Statement isn’t front and center on the home page? Have it made into a sign just inside your front door so that everyone walking in sees it every time. Put it into your email signatures and print it on your business cards. If you have name tents at meetings, have the name facing out and your Mission Statement facing the person behind it so they have something to memorize while they’re sitting there. Make it a tradition that you read it out loud before every meeting begins. It’s the single most important thing your organization possesses. Protect it at all costs!
- Take a quick look at your Chamber or Association annual calendar. For each item, consider how that particular event furthers the Mission Statement of your organization. If you can’t figure it out in 5-10 seconds, you’re probably suffering from MISSION DRIFT and it might be time to reconsider putting it on in the first place.
- Use the minutes from your most recent Board or Committee meetings as a Mission Report Card. Are there words directly from your mission statement in the minutes? If not, why are you meeting? Shouldn’t the purpose of these meetings be to keep the organization on task? If your meetings look on paper like a bunch of reports and updates as opposed to real action steps towards your mission, it might be time to think about mixing it up a bit. Imagine what you can accomplish towards your GOALS and MISSION if you move to a consent agenda and save the 3 hours of reports for REAL work!
- Do some homework! In a recent post, I taught a very simple time-management exercise I call “DO, DELEGATE and DELETE”. I’d recommend you take another look at your daily routine under that filter and see if the items you’re still doing every day are Mission Oriented or if they suffer from a mild case of Mission Drift. Remember, to be good stewards of your resources, if it’s not ON MISSION, it’s not on our calendars!
- OK…that’s enough for today. In a couple of weeks, I’ll bring you some more insight from my 2nd “year” of classes at Southeast Institute in Athens, Georgia. In the meantime, I’d like to ask you to do two very important things for me and for your organization. First, take action. You’ve read the post, now do the work. Evaluate, rate, delegate and FIXATE on your mission. Second, take a minute or two to respond to this post. What are you doing at YOUR Chamber or Association to avoid Mission Drift? What are some lessons YOU learned at Institute or Academy that have helped you and your organization stay focused?
Until next week!