Businesses use vision and mission statements to create a clear understanding of what to focus on to reach their end goal. An association is a business, too.
Associations need to view themselves as a business. There's not much difference between your association and a corporation, other than that your board members have volunteer positions usually elected by popular vote. We devote an entire chapter to this idea in our eBook.
With everything else being pretty much the same – including specific requirements like tax returns and corporation filings – the more you act like a corporate business, the more accomplishments you'll see. Successful businesses establish their goals and intended outcomes through vision and mission statements. Here's what you should know to craft your own mission statement.
Understanding your “WHY”
It's been our experience that many association boards lack a vision for their community, or even for the big goals they would like to accomplish. They are instead distracted by the many immediate projects in front of them.
While they are important, the lack of a clear vision or mission mires them in busywork and often puts up obstacles towards true productivity.
One of the most important byproducts of viewing yourself as a business is that you take the emotion out of it. Board members often aren't even conscious of the way they act during an association meeting – often times their behavior would never be accepted in a business meeting. Why is this? They don't view the association as a business.
Taking a step back and gaining an objective perspective allows boards to accomplish what is needed to sustain growth and success. They make careful decisions based on business strategy. In other words, they invest in themselves. Before a board can gain this perspective, they must look at what matters in the long term. Developing a mission or vision statement helps to make this possible.
The exercise to create a vision or mission statement isn't complicated, but it does require the cooperation of every board member. The first thing you'll do is switch hats. Board members have to think like residents instead of their elected leaders. What do residents want? Why?
Your vision and mission statement is a distillation of how you will accomplish the answer to these two questions. It also helps board members to get on the same page. You'll understand the vision and goal as a business enterprise.
And, it's not as straightforward as you might assume. Otherwise, you'd just take out a piece of paper and write, “Provide quality service to homeowners that protects and preserves property values.” That's a good and obvious start, but an effective vision statement places a focus on issuing a challenge what your board seeks to become. It's your preferred future state, and it provides the answer to, “Where do we want the board to be?”
Amazon's vision statement is,“Our vision is to be earth's most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online. For Google, it's, “To organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
Substitute your association in place of Amazon or Google. What does your association want to build or create for the homeowners you represent?
Vision to mission
From your vision statement, you'll craft a mission statement. There are lots of verbs in a mission statement because it answers what you do, how you do it, and who will benefit. It helps you stay focused on specific present actions that will move you closer to vision you initially craft as a group.
An effective mission statement has these important qualities:
- It determines your direction by helping you focus on your intentions.
- It outlines a template to help you make decisions. You'll find it easier to delegate responsibility and authority among board members.
- It facilitates alignment. New board members? No problem. The mission statement helps the get on board and contribute to the present activities that align with the boards overall vision.
- It shapes your strategy.
- It gives you a framework for evaluation and improvement. A clear mission statement allows you to know exactly what to measure – as well as how to measure it – to know you've undertaken the right actions that are moving you closer to your vision.
CVS Pharmacy crafted their mission statement as, “We will be the easiest pharmacy retailer for customers to use. Starbucks decided their mission is, “To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”
Notice that these mission statements focus on what these companies are and how they will go about doing business.
Your association's operating system
Computers and smartphones run on an operating system. It's a specific collection of instructions the device needs to function. A business needs an operating system, too, if it intends to succeed by delivering on its value proposition.
Your community association needs an operating system. It'll help you run it as a business. Find out how we can help you with your vision and mission.