A company’s vision, mission, operational and company strategies are all geared towards giving the organisation a focus and process for delivery. Every department within the business supports that. But so many businesses develop silos internally, even though inter-departmental alignment is an invaluable business asset.
Defining vision, mission and strategy
The corporate vision, mission and strategy are very different things. If we were to define them, it would go something like this:
Strategy is multi-faceted because it comprises several shorter-term goals, objectives and “battle plans”, housed in a bigger, overall strategy that is designed to navigate the company’s way through the mission.
The company’s mission is what the organisation is has set out to do; for example, in 1969, NASA’s mission was to put a man on the moon. The strategy is all the “moving parts” that get the company there – like the space shuttle, training the astronauts and setting up the communication networks.
The vision is what happens as a final product of the mission – or the final goal.
So, the mission is how a company achieves the vision, and the strategy is the plan that gets it there.
All of these can change over time, as goals are achieved or reset, its good to take stock of the overall position of the organisation too.
Here are NASA’s Mission and Vision today:
Our Vision We reach for new heights and reveal the unknown for the benefit of humankind.
Our Mission Drive advances in science, technology, aeronautics, and space exploration to enhance knowledge, education, innovation, economic vitality, and stewardship of Earth.
Where does Finance fit in?
Finance should mirror all three – vision, mission and strategy. Like all other departments Finance must ensure that the strategy of its department is implemented as efficiently as possible from a budgetary point of view; and ensure that the company’s mission and ultimate vision and strategy is reflected in its operational objectives too.
No single department is solely responsible for making a company profitable. Everyone, from Operations to Marketing, plays a part.
Here’s an interesting example to make that point:
In 1961, when JFK made a visit to NASA, quite a few years before the Apollo 11 launch, he allegedly encountered a janitor mopping the floor. When he asked the man what he did at NASA, the man replied: “I’m helping put a man on the moon!”
No matter how small and inconsequential your job may seem to you, you are an important part of the bigger picture. The janitor understood this.
A match made in heaven
Finance will often lead the budget process and therefore an understanding of say, Marketing’s strategy and objectives, or certain expenses should also be understood. In fact, it always works better if Finance is aligned with the rest of the business in general, so that it can consistently mirror the company’s vision, mission and strategy.
When Finance has a comprehensive understanding of (in this instance) Marketing’s strategy and approach, it is better equipped to analyse and understand Marketing expenses.
By the same token, if Marketing is kept in the loop about budgetary restrictions, considerations or procedures by Finance, they are more likely to accept that working within the specified constraints is necessary.
Business units, united
Goal setting can give way to the silo mentality. Departments and individuals within departments all have their own KPIs, and can lose sight of the bigger picture. However, when that Mission/Vision/Strategy combination is widely communicated throughout the organisation and understood by all, then come Performance Review time, the achievement of individual KPI’s consolidates to form an organisation success too.
Breaking the silo mentality and communicating between various business units is the key to successfully accomplishing the company’s mission.
Bridge the internal gap
Ask any company whether they feel that all of their departments work seamlessly together. In many cases, the answer will probably be “no”.
The Finance Director sits at the top table, and ensuring their department mirrors the organisations aims and objectives sets a very good measure for all to follow.