WITH THE WORLD going through immense changes over the last few years, many associations are taking a deeper look at the direction they want to take moving forward. For many, this re-evaluation has prompted the question of whether their mission, vision and values statements are still relevant for where the association is going. These statements serve as guideposts for the future of every association, so if they no longer feel aligned with your association’s goals, here are some important things to keep in mind.
Recalibrate Your Association’s Mission, Vision and Values
Revisiting your association’s mission, vision and values is a practice you should do regularly to ensure that they accurately reflect your association’s identity. Why? As your association grows and evolves, your existing statements may become outdated and not fully address your priorities. Some associations may even be forced to revisit these statements as the needs of their stakeholders change – a prime example of this being the hospitality industry’s need to re-evaluate its offerings and future direction during the pandemic.
Remember that the purpose of your mission, vision and values statements is to represent the direction and future of your association. They are intended to motivate and inspire your members, stakeholders and employees. Everything an association does should be aligned with these statements.
If your mission and vision statements are stale or outdated, they can keep your association from evolving over time. To prevent this, association executives need to implement a re-evaluation period to ensure everything in the association is in alignment. If any deviation is found between your mission, vision and values statements and the future of your association, you must recalibrate to bring the association back into alignment.
Deep Connection to the Strategic Planning Process
Strategic planning is intricately intertwined with your mission, vision and values statements. In fact, your strategic plan is the road map to help you achieve the goals and plans laid forth in these statements.
Revisiting these statements can be overwhelming, especially given that changing them essentially changes the direction of the association. However, this is an essential practice for associations that are just starting and those that have not updated these statements in a long time.
For associations that don’t understand what their mission, vision and values statements should be, there is some benefit in working backward. When this is the case, executives should aim to identify what they feel the association needs to accomplish in the industry and what their members need moving forward. These needs should become the building blocks of creating mission, vision and values statements your stakeholders connect with.
Creating a Strong Statement for Your Association
There are innumerable examples of successful mission, vision and values statements for associations, but the ones that stand out share some common characteristics: They’re concise, engaging and uplifting. These powerful statements should briefly explain your intentions for the association and motivate your members about where you are headed.
You must write your mission, vision and values statements in a way that gives members a will to win, helping propel your association forward. This is true across industries, with variation resulting from the unique position of each association. When revisiting your mission, vision and values statement, ensure it’s direct and to the point, and that it inspires your board, staff, partners and members.
How can you be sure whether your statements resonate with those groups? Ask them! Here’s how:
Get Your Association’s People Involved
To maximize the value you can get from revisiting your mission, vision and values statements, you need everyone on the same team. Rather than having your executive team work in isolation through the process, take it as an opportunity to strengthen relationships with stakeholders, board members, affiliates and employees by getting them involved in every step along the way.
Involving your members as you revisit these powerful statements helps them take ownership of the direction the association is headed. And there’s no one way to involve your people in this process. Some associations limit it to a survey, a town hall meeting, or several focus groups. Others find it more helpful to give the entire membership the opportunity to give feedback throughout the process.
When you involve your members, they will become your champions and actively help you achieve the goals established in these new statements. Just be sure to get them involved from the very beginning. Take advantage of your members’ knowledge from all levels of the association.
Consultants are a Powerful Tool for Associations
There may be concerns when it comes to hiring a consultant to revisit an association’s mission, vision and values statements. After all, these statements are integral to the membership and spirit of your association. How could someone who isn’t involved know enough to help?
However, bringing in an outside third party to facilitate these conversations is beneficial, especially if there is a difference of opinions among members, if these statements haven’t been revisited for some time, or if you just don’t know where to start.
Without any bias, a consultant helps you:
- Evaluate the alignment betweenyour existing statements and yourassociation’s growth and offerings.
- Conduct a needs analysis for theassociation.
- Determine the best way to getfeedback from members.
In other words, hiring aconsultant can give you the unbiased guidance you need through a process where emotions –and opinions – can run high.
It’s All About Alignment
Everything your association does must align with your mission, vision and values statements. Any deviation either requires you to revisit these statements or reassess decisions that may be out of alignment with them.
To create strong mission, vision and values statements, you must involve your membership right away. Not only will your members and stakeholders give you valuable insight into the creation process, but since they will live and breathe these statements throughout the association, your members need to feel a connection with them. Once you better understand your members’ needs and where you want to go, you can create mission, vision and values statements that accurately portray your association.