Your Vision, Mission & Values: Touchstones for Change

Author By Jim Lara

In the preceding blogs in our Survival Change series, we discussed the first two of 10 keys—or steps—to effect successful transformational change.

As a reminder, Key No. 1 focuses on getting everyone’s attention by creating a compelling sense of urgency.

Key No. 2 is about solidifying top-level support for the change initiative.

This latest installment—Key No.3—delves into the “why” and the “how” of what we refer to as cultural “touchstones for change.”

Touchstones for Change

In terms of touchstones for change, I’m referring to developing your all-important “vision, mission and values.”

If you’re going to lead your business aviation organization through successful transformational change, it’s important to define, develop and implement these three cultural touchstones, and then make sure to use them going forward.

To define the vision, mission and values, however, you must first answer some questions relative to each component:

  1. Vision – WHY does our organization exist? What’s our reason for being?
  2. Mission – HOW will we fulfill our organizational purpose? What actions will we take?
  3. Values – HOW will we work together? What are our professional and interpersonal values? What covenants will we make with one another on an individual basis?

Creating Alignment

The three elements mentioned above form the foundation upon which an organization is built or transformed. And getting them right is truly essential to help ensure that the team becomes aligned.

The power of organization alignment is often the distinguishing characteristic that defines the difference between highly successful organizations and those torn apart by internal discord that almost inevitably leads to failure.

Before we proceed, let me remind you that, as leaders, it’s imperative that you set direction, remove barriers and provide resources for your team.

And defining your mission, vision and values (the why and the how), enables you to satisfy that first leadership imperative: setting direction.

So, let’s explore how to do just that.



Before you can begin to define the vision for the organization, you need to be able to answer WHY your business aviation organization exists in the first place.

When you’re inside the organization and working there day to day, this can be a tough, even potentially threatening, exercise.

Because many aviation leaders have never asked themselves the question “WHY?” And, in some cases, the answer may have even changed since the last time they asked. In either case, the aviation organization may be out of step with or completely isolated from the host organization.

And that’s a recipe for organizational failure or, at least, a summons to outsourcing.

So once your WHY is well-defined, you’ll begin to understand that your vision has a long horizon. But keep in mind that it needs to be re-validated every 12-18 months.



Moving onto the mission of the organization. The next question to address is, “HOW will we actualize our vision?”

This moves you into more comfortable territory—from strategy to tactics—from the “WHY” to the “HOW.”It’s a space most executives or leaders are more comfortable working in.

The mission statement is commonly phrased as such: “We will do/accomplish the (insert vision) by (insert actions to be taken to make the vision happen).”

Since most aviation organizations are largely comprised of a self-directed workforce, each person will use the mission touchstone to guide their actions. And in the course of their work, they should always ask themselves: “Is what I intend to do consistent with our organization’s mission?”

If the action they’re about to take is consistent with the mission, a team member shouldn’t require any further permission to act.

However, if the intended action seems outside of or inconsistent with the mission, they should know better than to proceed unilaterally, and that, if they do so, there could be some serious consequences.



Lastly, we need to define the cultural values of the organization. Generally written in short phrases or statements, your values need to simple, succinct and visceral. No “ear candy.”

The organizational values define HOW you will:

  • Work together
  • Relate to one other
  • Discuss and resolve disagreements
  • Create covenants (contracts) with one another
  • Know what to expect from one another

Everyone needs to buy into these values statements, since, together, they define the operating philosophy of the organization. They are the essence of every action performed in behalf of the mission; they are how you actualize your vision.

You might wonder how many values an organization should list. Asa rule of thumb, if you have more than five or six, you might want to distill them down to their true essence.

Making it Happen

OK. All of this sounds great, but how do you actually get this done?

If you attempt to make it happen solo, in isolation, you will be on a direct path to failure. This has to be a team effort.

And that team should be comprised of your organization’s senior leaders.

As to where to host these work sessions, it’s important to remove your team from the day-to-day work environment. Developing your vision, mission and values is best accomplished at an off-site location, in neutral territory.

Further to the process, it’s wise to use a skilled facilitator. It’s virtually impossible to facilitate the sessions and participate in it at the same time. As a leader, you will be far more valuable as a participant rather than the facilitator.

How long will the process take? In most cases, with proper preparation on everyone’s part, it can be effectively accomplished in two intense days.


Summing it Up

At Gray Stone Advisors, we facilitate these sessions for clients on a regular basis in a navigational program that we call The Way Forward™.

Once you complete this process, you should immediately cascade the results throughout the organization. The power of your mission, vision and values comes from a shared understanding and commitment, which, in turn, helps to forge alignment of purpose, action and results.

In order to achieve a successful transformation, you have to get Key No. 3 absolutely correct. With this one, don’t be satisfied with merely “pretty good.”

It requires excellence, as everything that follows will be built on these foundational touchstones.

Next up, we’ll focus on Change Management Key No. 4: “Winning.”