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Three Fundamentals of Good Stewardship

(updated 2021)

The mission statement is the very first proclamation of any organization. It serves as the central purpose for the organization’s existence, and it is the initial attraction point for employees and customers, alike.  But as years pass, the mission ages, it fades in memory, and mission delivery strays from the initial intent.  In addition, the organization begins to face new challenges, as the consumer's needs, wants, and desires evolve. Whether the mission ages into a fine wine or a stale ale depends on the care and attention of the leadership, because an organization can only be as good as the stewardship it receives:

Memories are short, so it's always a good idea to create “refresh moments” for both internal and external stakeholders. These are moments when we reconnect the dots, in new and creative manners. It’s a mission update that maintains the integrity of the initial underlying meaning.  It's also an opportunity to incorporate new ideas, technologies, and approaches to add elements of flexibility and adaptability to keep stakeholders invested.

Whether the mission ages into a fine wine or a stale ale depends on the care and attention of the leadership, because an organization can only be as good as the stewardship it receives.
via @finandmrkt (http://bit.ly/StewardShip)

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Everyone changes over time, so when the product or service changes with them they are more likely to feel that what you offer is still relevant. Look at Coke and Pepsi, for example. Every now and then they introduce a new product or marketing campaign. They’re new, innovative, interesting, weird, etc. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Nonetheless, the product or campaign is bound to grab your attention and beg for new consideration. Despite all of these changes, the mission always remains the same, “To create value and make a difference; to be the best consumer products company,” they’ve lost nothing by branching out and adapting. These campaigns are important to all stakeholders. An internal meeting will certainly look different from the 30 second commercial; but, it’s important to reconnect with all stakeholders in new and fresh manners.

Feedback is the lifeblood of greatness. Formal or informal, solicited or unsolicited, known or anonymous, it can provide valuable insight into the organization’s perceived and real performance. Soliciting feedback also helps stakeholders feel connected and part of the process. Again, it works for both internal and external stakeholders. Incorporating feedback into future operations lets stakeholders know that their voice is heard and that their vote, suggestion, idea, and concern matters. 

Reluctance to receive and incorporate feedback will likely foster a negative perception. There’s always room for improvement. An Olympian does not achieve prime performance without coaching, so how can an organization improve without feedback? Keeping an open-mind and fostering the feedback loop increases the chances of receiving helpful insight from stakeholders.

In business, we tend to speak in terms of short and long. But, the rest of the world does not necessarily understand or operate according to these terms. So, as we make our short-term and long-term goals, don’t forget to relay the “mid-term” direction that ties one to the other - translate our terms into something meaningful to the whole.    

”In order to achieve and sustain a balance of complicated and often conflicting concepts, decision makers must actively cultivate critical thought as a mode of being. Ultimately, it is mutual openness - a collaboration of perspectives – that yields sound decisions.”

- The Key to Sound Decision Making

This translation may take the form of regular communications, a conference, a promotion, etc. Whatever the mode, the goal is to translate the mission for our stakeholders so that they can relay it properly to current and potential customers. It’s neither short-term nor long-term, it is perpetual.

The more we enable our stakeholders to take ownership of the mission, the more they become advocates for us, and the more we are likely to meet our goals and age into something valuable, endeared, and loved, like a fine wine.

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