Atlanta Chapter President, John Purcell, wrote about his experience leading our team of Chapter Presidents who worked alongside Truth At Work CEO and Board of Directors to clarify our organizational identity through new our mission, vision, and values.
The Importance of Organizational Identity
There’s no more important responsibility that a leader has than to identify, clarify, and reinforce the identity of their organization. When five of us Chapter Presidents were asked to weigh in on the work the Truth At Work Board of Directors had done in reworking the mission, vision, and values, we all took it very seriously.
In my organizational consulting business I focus on what I consider to be the most crucial, and yet missed, aspects of organizational health. Strategic planning is right at the top of the list, along with executive leader and team coaching. I was seeing that a key to organizational effectiveness is alignment, which strategic planning should give you. However, even organizations that are doing thoughtful planning often aren’t beginning and ending at the right places.
The right place to begin is confirming and clarifying your identity, making sure you all agree on the answer to the question, “Who exactly are we?” Then your plan answers the question, “Where exactly are we going in this season that will, among a few other things, strengthen our identity?”
The right place to end is with an effective execution strategy for the plan. Now we have the two answers to an old question, “What eats strategy for breakfast or lunch?” I’ll combine the two answers into one statement: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast, and execution eats it for lunch.” An organization’s core identity should be the foundation of its culture. Larry Bossidy, in his book Execution, said he’ll take a well-executed, mediocre plan any day over a brilliant plan that is executed in a mediocre way.
Our culture is reeling right now due to a crisis in identity – of humans as individuals, of Christians, churches, and organizations. A leader starts with clarifying organizational identity.
Truth At Work’s Approach to Clarifying Organizational Identity
The approach our group of Chapter Presidents took was to divide the task into addressing the three elements that make up an organization’s core identity. But before even naming those, I need to address another issue: definition of terms. There are different elements that can be included in Core Identity, and there is no universally accepted definition of those terms! So the most important thing to do is to agree on what terms you are using and what they will mean for your team. Truth At Work has traditionally used the terms Mission, Vision, and Values, so we stuck with these, and we defined them in the following ways:
Mission: answers the question, “Why do we exist?”
Vision: answers the question, “Where are we going?”
Core Values: answers the question, “How will we behave?”
We first looked at the traditional terms used for these three elements, as well as the suggested modifications the board had come up with. Then we addressed these elements one at a time, having a video meeting for healthy debate around each one. When we were satisfied with each statement, we scheduled one more meeting to consider how the statements worked together, which brought about some additional modifications. Between meetings it was not unusual for a member of the group to have an additional thought that he would share with the others, and that actually resulted in an additional meeting after that “final” one. It was crucial all along that we had two key rules of engagement that we agreed on in our first meeting: we would have healthy conflict in every meeting where everyone would share every thought they had; once we made a decision based on the majority opinion of the group, we would all support it 100%.
This experience was awesome, bringing about not unanimity but true unity. Someone in the group said, “This has been the best team experience I’ve ever had.”
We needed to rectify the differences between the statements we had identified and those the board of directors had identified. First, we had a meeting with Truth At Work CEO, GO Kelly, and Chairman of the Board, Josh Wildman, where we presented our recommendations with explanations and answers to their initial questions. Then, we all agreed that GO and I would meet to dig into those differences and see if we could agree on one version of the mission, vision, and values. We were able to get there over three meetings. Next, GO took these to the board while I also consulted with the other four Chapter Presidents. This resulted in general agreement, but one of two suggested modifications in what GO and I had come up with.
Putting Our Organizational Identity to Work
The process of uncovering your organizational identity is almost as important as the product itself. And that is why, in the end, we have a product that we could all agree truly did an excellent job answering the question, “Who is Truth At Work?” Now we are using it to explain to others who don’t know us, to recruit prospective members, board members, and Chapter Presidents, to train and equip CPs, to guide our meeting agendas and they way we facilitate them, to drive our curriculum development, and to inform all other important decisions.
Truth At Work’s Mission, Vision, and Values
Truth At Work exists to transform Christian business leaders through authentic peer advisory groups that apply biblical truth for living out our faith in all areas of life.
To see Christ-centered, Spirit-empowered leaders living with an eternal perspective, in biblical community, impacting their spheres of influence.
Biblical Christ-centeredness: Jesus Christ, as revealed in the Scriptures, is the foundation of everything we do. The reality of the Gospel, from the whole counsel of God’s Word, is that which defines, directs, and drives us by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Safety & Confidentiality: A place for leaders to be completely vulnerable without fear of judgment or shame, knowing their conversations will not leave the room
Authentic Community: Deep relationships through conversation, shared experiences and Godly counsel
Integrity: Living out our identity in Christ across all areas of life
Are you interested in joining a conversation like this to grow your faith and business with a Christian peer advisory group?
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