Vision. Mission. Strategy. Tactics? Values?

I have a love-hate relationship with visions and missions. The ones that companies and organizations spend a lot of time and ressources on developing. They often have a rather formulaic form:

We exist to restore intellectual capital whilst continuing to collaboratively coordinate information.

This is actually a mission statement from a mission statement generator.

I do love the idea of missions, visions and strategies. It speaks to the engineer in me. We should define the goal we want to achieve, and then break that goal down into individual work-packages. When we have completed all of them, we have achieved our goal. The logical framework approach is a good example.

I also like values. I need consistency. Or, I don’t need it, but it is important to me. I like people and organizations to actually be consistent in their actions. Walk the talk! If you want a work environment that does not discriminate – do not discriminate. Anyone. In any way, I do not really mind that you discriminate based on gender. Go ahead. Just be honest about it. In reality, I will of course hate you if you discriminate based on gender. But the hate will take a more deep and incandecent nature if you discriminate based on gender, while claiming that you are all about equality.

So – I love strategies. I love visions. I love missions. I love values.

On the other hand. I hate them. Most of them are exactly like the example above. An example that is taken from the mission statement generator. Noone is able to explain the difference between mission and vision, and the values all falls for the negation test. And tend to end up being rather tautological. Often they are self contradictory. You can have loyalty in all situations. Or you can have honesty in all situations. But you can’t have both. Sometimes being loyal means holding back on honesty a bit. How do you prioritize your values? I have never seen a description of a hierarchy.

Usually it doesn’t matter. Most values in organizations tend to be nothing more than hot air. And as hot air, easy to dismiss when it is opportune. Try it yourself. Tell your boss that her decision is wrong, because it is in conflict the the defined values of the organization.

So – I love values. But not when they are meaningless.

And if they are – don’t bother defining them. They are just going to be a waste of time.