Mission Fluency

As often happens to me (and you too) … while reading an article recently, a point stirs a memory of a similar experience from my past. I am back in that place reliving the experience.  With growing knowledge and a depth of experience I see it fresh and anew.

Would I have acted different?  Damn, to turn the table and ask the CEO to answer the question he asked of me.

Ah, yet here I am now, the me of the present.  I can not relive the past, but I can reflect on the lesson and decide to act different when presented with a similar situation.

So what did my CEO ask of me?  We recently updated our mission statement and core values.  The slick posters appeared on each floor of our company.  Word spread that the CEO, while walking between meetings, would stop random employees and ask them to recite our five core values.  Uncomfortable indeed when someone did not remember all five and in the correct order.

It got to the point where we each carried a card (provided by the company and yes, I still have it) with our mission on one side and the five values on the other side.  I was in Catholic Elementary School once again memorizing my prayers.  Memories feed other memories.

Yet, I go back to that time when the CEO asked me to list the five core values.  Yes, I made a wrong turn one day and stood there waiting for an elevator with him. With my Catholic school training I recited each without hesitation.   Just another prayer to memorize.  The meaning only of secondary importance.

With today’s mind and strength I imagine that interchange from years past playing out differently.  “Yes, I can recite the five values.  If you want I can tell you what each means to me in my own words.  Yet, with respect, I ask you to do the same.  Tell me a story of why each of these values is important to you.”

Easy now to imagine that interchange.  Brave of me to think I would have said those words and make such a request of the CEO of my company.  Sadly, if that experience did indeed happen and I did make my request of my CEO, he would have struggled to answer.  He could recite every key metric result for the company, but I doubt he could tell me WHY our five common values are important.

The article that brought back these memories is titled, 10 Policies to Build a Mindful Company at Fast Company Magazine.  The company discussed in the article, Wanderlust, has a list of internal policies that align their organization with the company’s mission.  Indeed, one of the policies involves the senior leaders randomly asking employees to recite the core mission.

As I take in the whole story of this company discussed in the article, I believe the senior leaders are eager themselves to answer the question.  I bet they have a story of why and how the core mission is important for all to know, breath, and live.

Senior leaders, indeed expect employees to link to the mission and values of your organization.  It starts though with your own commitment and the story you tell.

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