It might sound obvious, but every successful company starts with a strong vision. On a less abstract level, it’s that one sentence or vision statement which always shows you the way like a beacon. Of course a single sentence won’t do in order to fully express a company’s vision. That’s why you add a company mission. This mission statement describes the path of what will get you to the goal (or vision). Add a strong set of values that your team believes in and they will serve as guiding reminders on how to follow the path you’re on and stay true to your brand’s and people’s identity. Thus, the ensemble of company vision, mission and the core values form the fundamental pillars of the culture and the moral code of your company.
Great Companies Start With a Corporate Vision
But how does all of this really happen especially in times of mandatory home office? How can companies develop and implement their corporate vision and mission during a global pandemic? At TRIQ the founders had a strong vision in mind from day one. The idea was to reshape the way endurance athletes train by creating an app that plans and schedules successful training in a fully dynamic and individual way—based on what actually happens during the training and life of each athlete. The TRIQ algorithm bases its decision making for each training session on many scientific parameters being considered in the background. Add in the fact that the app reacts to schedule changes instantly (let’s be honest: things change all the time) and the fact that triathlon consists of three sports...and it becomes quite complex to turn all of this into a few sentences and values that serve as a guideline for everything people at TRIQ do on a daily basis.
A Strong Corporate Culture and Well Formulated Corporate Vision are key
The key statements, which describe our company’s vision were never written down because there were many things more important to take care of first. Once I took over as CEO we already had parts of the team set up and running and were doing great. So why unfocus everybody and conduct exhausting workshops via Zoom to find these sets of words called corporate vision, mission and values? Why not wait until the pandemic is over and then write down the guidelines for our corporate culture in person?
Here’s the reason: Things work without formulating a corporate vision and mission for quite some time. But once we had to make hard decisions on key topics such as product features to start with, communication style and partnerships it became clear that we needed a common definition as to where we wanted to go as a company. Because otherwise everyone has a similar but individual idea of it. And that can make even discussions on simple decisions unsolvable—especially when everyone is eager to create something great together.
Having the whole team work from home makes it even more crucial to agree on basic matters such as the company’s vision. People need to be empowered to independently make decisions on a daily basis and the vision but especially the mission statement help to make the right ones for the product and the company.
What our Home Office Vision Workshops Looked Like
Of course in times of Corona everything is a bit different. This applies especially to team workshops in which decisive topics like the corporate culture are worked on from home. After some rather unproductive attempts with longer sessions, we started mini-workshops on Zoom and thus spread the whole process over several weeks. Because honestly, who wants to spend a whole day in a Zoom meeting focusing on one topic?
The workshops we held lasted a maximum of two hours. Instead of a whiteboard we used Trello or Miro and focused on only one part of the matter at a time. In the beginning, it was just about collecting ideas and clustering terms that were mentioned often. From there we got closer and closer to our final vision and mission statement.
Of course, all of this took much longer than a real life workshop. And there is a risk because we had to start with many day-to-day things even as the final versions weren’t agreed on yet, while continuing to build the team and also communicating with the outside world. But: Being part of the process caused awareness throughout the whole team even without a finished guideline. It might even have contributed to the results corresponding so well with how we actually operate. And yet, now that we have set our mission statement as well as our company’s vision and values, a lot of steps we need to take are much clearer.
The Results Power our Daily Decision Making
“Empowering athletes to become their best” is our corporate vision and what we aim for with everything we do at TRIQ. Our mission in order to achieve this goal is “To provide a holistic training experience through a profound understanding of our customer needs, latest scientific insights and cutting-edge technology. Every day we push the boundaries further by creating a best-in-class individualized and humanlike service our customers trust.”
The team’s and thereby our company’s values—which hold it all together—I will be describing in the second part of this article series. Let me finish this one with my personal take on the matter: Honestly, I didn't feel comfortable working without a clearly defined vision and mission statement. Even if you somewhat feel what they are, there is still a lot of room for interpretation. Now that we have finalized the statements, we can refer to them again and again and thus make decisions that are in the best interest of the company. They apply in particular to strategies for our product, marketing or communication but also to everyday matters such as prioritizing tasks or how we formulate in-app messages.