World-Renowned Family Business Executive Advisor, Author & Keynote Speaker; Founding Partner & MD, RTS Global Partners



Does your organization have a vision statement? A list of intentions? A mission statement? A purpose defined? A values charter?

If you don’t have these solid statements, or if you have them but aren’t using them effectively, you’re losing a massive opportunity to help your family business and organization reach its goals. For years we have been helping clients build their Vision, Intentions and Purpose (VIP) aligned to a Family Values Charter (FVC). For us the VIP & FVC is more than a traditional vision or mission statement, that gets placed in a beautiful gold frame in the founders office, which everyone then forgets about overtime. The VIP has to be a dynamic one-page document reviewed every month. It can become a toolkit to also drive accountability for all the family members.

If your organization is feeling as if it’s without direction, you’re having difficulty making decisions, or goals seem elusive or out of reach, it’s time to hone in on your VIP and FVC.

Consider this: What would happen if you were going on vacation and had no particular destination in mind? You knew without a doubt that you wanted a beach vacation, but wasn’t sure in which direction the coast was, and didn’t have a map or GPS to guide you there. What would be the chances of you ending up on the sandy beaches of Dubai? Minimal, I would say. You have as good a chance of ending up in Dubai as you do on the moon. Now let’s add one more wrinkle into what is quickly turning into the vacation from hell. Let’s say the vehicle you are using to get yourself to this destination plane, train or automobile, is less than trustworthy. Even if you kind of, sort of, know the direction in which you are going, it’s doubtful you’ll arrive.

Running a family business without a vision, clearly defined intentions, and values aligned to a purpose is similar to taking a trip without an address, a map, and a sound vehicle. In either situation, it will be almost impossible to reach your destination. This article and extract from my book “Unleash Your Family Business DNA” will define and differentiate vision, intentions, purpose and values, it will help you determine what yours are and will guide you in writing it all effectively. We’ll also tackle some issues that are unique to family businesses, such as ensuring that your VIP & FVC reflect and complement both your family and business areas.

Vision, Intentions, Purpose and Values (or Traditional Vision & Mission Statements): What’s the Difference?

One of the biggest barriers to creating effective VIP’s is that people don’t have a good understanding of what they are, and how they are different from one another. One question frequently asked by clients is “What exactly is a vision/mission/values statement anyway?” It’s a great question, and one that would receive a number of different answers depending upon who you asked. People seem to have less issue with defining values, and more issue with defining and differentiating between vision and mission. Some confuse the two, while others think they are one and the same. Most confusion surrounding these two words can be traced to semantics. When we work with clients we build out a Vision linked to Intentions, rather than a Vision & Mission Statement. However for this article, we’ve used case studies and benchmarks that refer to traditional vision and mission statements to make it easier.

So to make things easier, let’s go back to the dictionary definitions of the words:

Vision: The ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom; the mental image of what the future will or could be like.

Your Vision is about WHERE are you going…

Intentions (Mission): An operation designed to carry out a goal.

Your Intentions are WHAT must happen to achieve your vision. Some will have a mission statement, whilst we help clients build a list of intentions…

Purpose: A reason for doing something that has meaning or significance.

Your Purpose is WHY are you doing this and what is the underlying reason for wanting to achieve this all…

Values: A person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life.

Your Values are the inner ground rules that drive how you will behave and the glue that keeps everyone together…

To go back to our vacation analogy, vision is your destination, or goals for your organization, while intentions or your mission is the GPS or map that will guide you there. A vision statement is a short, written statement of the future you want to create and where you are headed. A list of intentions or mission statement, on the other hand, turns that vision into practice. It is the foundation upon which that organization’s decisions and strategies rest upon.

Consider the following traditional examples:

Carrefour ::

Vision: Fully assume our responsibilities as Europe’s leading retailer and the world’s second-largest retailer and act at local level as a responsible retailer by promoting the company’s sustainable development.

Mission: Promote quality for everybody and ensure the safety of our products. Meet all the expectations of our customers and consumers. Provide customers with freedom to choose with specific ranges of Carrefour products.

Tata Group ::

Vision: To be the most admired and responsible Integrated Power Company with International Footprint, delivering sustainable value to all our stakeholders.

Mission: To become the most admired and responsible Power company delivering sustainable value by:

• Operating our assets at benchmark levels.

• Executing projects safely, with predictable benchmark quality, cost, and time.

• Growing the Tata Power business, be it across the value chain or across geographies, and also in allied or new businesses.

• Driving Organizational Transformation that will make us have the conviction and capabilities to deliver our strategic intent.

• Achieving our sustainability intent of ‘Leadership with Care’ by having leading and best practices on Care for the Environment, Care for the Community, Care for the Customers and Shareholders, and Care for the People.

Hyundai ::

Vision: Our team provides value to your future.

Mission: To create exceptional automotive value for our customers by harmoniously blending safety, quality, and efficiency. With our diverse team, we will provide responsible stewardship to our community and environment while achieving stability and security now and for future generations.

What about values? Chances are, even if you’ve been very responsible about crafting a vision and mission statement for your organization, you’ve failed to give values the same treatment. The values charter or statement is frequently the forgotten stepchild of the triumvirate. Even companies with very strong vision and mission statements sometimes neglect the values charter or statement. Vision tells you where you want to go. Intentions or a Mission tells you what you will do to get there. Purpose governs why you are doing it. Values tell you how you will do the work to get there. When you have a strong idea of what your values are, they are reflected in everything your organization does, and become visible not only to your employees, but to those in the community. Purpose and Values become especially important when there are difficult decisions to be made. Purpose and Values tell you what’s important, and ensure that actions and behaviors reflect those priorities. One organization that does an excellent job of clearly defining vision, mission, and values is Toyota.

Toyota ::

Vision: To sustain profitable growth by providing the best customer experience and dealer support.

Mission: Toyota will lead the way to the future of mobility, enriching lives around the world with the safest and most responsible ways of moving people. Through our commitment to quality, constant innovation, and respect for the planet we aim to exceed expectations and be rewarded with a smile. We will meet challenging goals by engaging the talent and passion of people, who believe there is always a better way.

Values: Toyota has five values that form an action guide for its employees and enforce its basic philosophy.

Respect for the Law. Toyota Industries is determined to comply with the letter and spirit of the law, in and outside of Japan, and to be fair and transparent in all its dealings.

• Respect for Others. Toyota Industries is respectful of the people, culture, and tradition of each region and country in which it operates. It also works to promote economic growth and prosperity in those countries. 

• Respect for the Natural Environment. Through its corporate activities, Toyota Industries works to contribute to regional living conditions and social prosperity and also strives to offer products and services that are clean, safe and of high quality.

• Respect for Customers. Toyota Industries conducts intensive product research and forward-looking development activities to create new value for its customers.

• Respect for Employees. Toyota Industries nurtures the inventiveness and other abilities of its employees. It seeks to create a climate of cooperation, so that employees and the Company can realize their full potential.

Developing Your Own Vision, Intentions, Purpose (VIP) and Family or Business Values

Developing vision, intentions/mission, purpose and values statements requires significantly more than coming up with cutesy catchphrases that look good in the company manual, or on a poster in the lunchroom. If you want your statements to truly serve your organization, if you want them to tell you where you are going, what you need to do to get there and how you will do the work to arrive there, you’ll need to give your vision, intentions/mission, purpose and values serious consideration. Otherwise, you will have created empty statements that don’t allow you to “walk the talk.”

What’s Your Vision?

Of all the three statements discussed in this article, the vision statement is by far the most fun to create. Why? Because developing your vision allows you to dream about and imagine what’s possible for your organization. It allows you to envision the future you want to create. While it’s important that all family members and employees are emotionally connected to an organization’s vision, when it comes to developing a vision the founder (or family board) of the business, or the main family member who currently lead the business, should be in the driver’s seat. The vision of an organization should, when all is said and done, reflect the founder’s goals of the business. The emphasis in your VIP statement should be on the future. Self-reflection is vital for a meaningful statement.

How do you envision your organization, five or ten years down the road, when it comes to family members, shareholders, employees, growth, and contribution to society?

Consider the following vision statement: “To be the best grocery retailer in Middle East and to always meet our customers’ expectations.” Now, picture employees walking into headquarters every day, and seeing that vision statement proudly displayed on the wall. As lovely as the sentiment is, do you think employees really know what it means, and how they can contribute? If employees really stopped to think about the above vision statement (most won’t, because it’s not compelling enough to warrant a second thought), they might ask questions like, “What does ‘best’ look like?” “Who are our customers?” “What expectations do they have?” and last, but not least, “How long did it take the highly-paid executive in the corner office to come up with that gem of a statement, anyway?” A better vision statement might be, “Saving grocery shoppers in Middle East time and money.” Aha! Now there’s a concrete goal that’s been spelled out. Employees know exactly who your customers are—busy, frugal shoppers. They also know how to make them happy, by saving them time and money.

This type of vision statement provides direction for employees in their day-to-day work, as well as when they are making big decisions. To ensure that your visions statement really works, it must be compelling. It must speak to your employees. They must feel, when they act according to the vision statement, that they are making a difference. A vision statement that says, “To double sales revenue by the year 2020” may get your juices flowing, but that specific goal simply isn’t going to matter to the bulk of your family members or employees, especially the ones who are lower down in the organization, and who don’t immediately feel the impact of increased revenue. I know what you’re thinking.

Healthy revenues ensure that family members and employees remain employed and have a secure future. And that should be compelling enough. Family members and employees may understand this on an intellectual level, but on an emotional level most of employees want to make a difference in their work. They want to have a positive impact on customers and the community, and make the world a better place. Develop a vision that allows them to do this, and profits and positive growth will follow.

When developing a VIP statement, ask yourself five questions:

1. Why does our family business and organization exist?

2. Who is our ideal client or customer?

3. What expectations do our clients and customers have?

4. How can our organization improve the lives of our customers and clients, and make the world a better place?

5. What does success look like?

Think all five questions through. Take your time. Write down your answers. Within those five answers should be your VIP. One you’ve figured out the gist of your vision you can carefully craft and hone your statement so that it’s no more than a couple of sentences long, and it is written in a way that is not only easy to understand, but also inspiring and motivating. We’ve put together a VIP toolkit and worksheet to help you develop a great vision statement. You can email info@rtsgp.com to request it.

What Are Your Intentions and Mission?

Once you’ve determined what your vision is, the next step is to focus on your list of intentions and mission statement. To review, your list of intentions and mission statement should turn your vision into practice. It’s what will allow you to move your organization from the present into the future and an intention is backed with determination and will-power, it must happen. Your list of intentions and mission statement should complement your strategic plan. To that end, it’s important to state that intentions and mission statements can be fluid. While a vision statement is typically static, a list of intentions and the mission statement may change as your strategy changes. For example, your current strategic plan may have an intended life of, let’s say, five years. The mission statement you develop, then, must work for that entire five years. When your strategic plan changes, then your list of intentions and mission statement must change with it. To that end, it’s important that you have a good handle on your strategic plan before you attempt to develop your complete list of intentions mission statement.

When working with clients, we invest considerable time working on the strategy and then aligning is to the list of intentions or mission statement.

A good list of intentions and mission statement comprises four components:

1. It is broad enough to allow for diversity and change as your business reacts to market changes. A mission statement should not preclude you from entering new markets, or developing new products and services as needed.

2. It should be specific enough to provide focus.

3. It should have an internal dimension; it should describe the products and/or services the company offers.

4. It should have an external dimension; it should identify the customer as well as its marketing position and how it differentiates from competitors.

Consider the following example, the mission statement of Wipro Limited, a family-run organization in India that provides IT solutions and services:

“Our mission is to be a RF System Solution Provider, through its innovative research and design works for a new world of broadband wireless communications.

• To support customers who rely on our ability as an advanced RF System Solution Provider.

• To build up core competencies through collaboration with technological partners.

• To contribute to the Ubiquitous Networking Society by providing chip level RF system solutions.” This statement includes all four important components:

• Broad. It pledges to be an RF system solutions provider, without tying itself to specific products or services.

• Specific. It pledges to introduce the latest in broadband wireless communications.

• Internal. It describes the product the company offers, “broad- band wireless communications,” and also lists the functions that the organization will perform: “innovative research and design.”

• External. It identifies the customer as those who are looking for “advanced RF system solutions,” and also shows how they differentiate from competitors: “a new world of broadband wireless communications.”

To develop a guiding mission statement, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Who are our customers?

2. What are the products and/or services that we offer?

3. What are the specific goals of the family business and organization?

4. What are the broad goals of the family business and organization?

5. What is the organization’s market position?

6. How does the organization differentiate from the competition?

The answers to these questions might take some time to develop. But once you are confident with your answers, you will have all of the information you need to develop a mission statement that speaks to both your employees and to your customers. For further help in developing your VIP, request for our toolkits and worksheets email info@rtsgp.com. We have also published articles on our website with 52 Strategic Questions you should ask yourself and the entire family board. Please request for this too.

What is Your Purpose and Aligned Values?

Values describe “how” your family business and organization intends to meet its goals. Aligned with a deep Purpose on why you are doing this – is it to build a legacy or make a difference or increase your wealth or create something of significance or to build your family brand? A purpose statement and values charter indicates what your company really cares about, and what is important. Your family business and organization’s values are behind important decisions that are made, as well as the day-to-day actions of your employees. Your organization’s values reflect those of the individuals behind it (the family)—their attitudes, perceptions, and beliefs. Values guide conduct, and provide an answer to the question, “What should I do in this situation?” Whilst the Purpose can keep us on track on why we are doing this. In a business atmosphere that is constantly changing and therefore requires quick decisions and actions in order to be successful, so understanding organizational values is more important than ever. As a matter of fact, the values charter and statement may be the most important thing, because your organization’s values will factor into both your vision and mission statements. To that end, we make a very valid argument in suggesting that you write your values charter and statement at the same time you write your vision or mission statements.

I cover Purpose & Values third here in a combined form, behind intentions and vision, because of the three statements it’s the Purpose & Values that are most often ignored. Why? I’ve asked my clients this question a number of times, and I invariably get the answer, “We know what our values are. We don’t feel like we need to take the time or effort to spell them out.” But even if you know the values of your organization, it’s possible that the other members of your family aren’t totally in tune to them and their Purpose may be different too. In order to meet goals, it’s important that everyone within your organization shares and acts upon the same set of values and share a common Purpose, whilst respecting that everyone has something unique and persona that is driving them. Every decision and action that is made should reflect a universally held set of values. You may think that because you come from the same family, you hold the same values. To some extent, this is true. However, as the business survives generations, there will be small differences and changes in values. This is why a family business and all its members must develop a joint Family Value Charter that then links to a Company Code of Conduct or Business Charter and the VIP.

A brother and sister raised in the same family may go on to marry and raise their own households (family units), each will then develop their own values. While these values will have the same origins, the introduction of new spouses will cause slight shifts. Family values will differ even more as the business survives generations, and less immediate family members become involved. What happens when an organization’s values system isn’t completely understood, or is operating on several sets of values? Internally, it may take valuable time to make important decisions, or you may find that you are rationalizing decisions that are made. Family members may not agree on decisions, and it may lead to time consuming deadlocks. Contradictory decisions may be made. Employees may have problems prioritizing. Externally, customers may not fully understand who you are, or what you stand for.

Values give employees a code of conduct, and also tell your customers and clients what to expect from you. A strong values statement tells your employees what they should hold in high esteem, and so shapes its philosophy, processes and goals. It tells employees what moral boundaries they will not cross and allows them to be proud of their work. When values are strong, the individuals within an organization can measure their decisions and actions by these values, and also invite their customers and clients to do so. Through a strong set of values, customers and clients discover exactly who you are.

Examples of values may be competency, integrity, respect, dedication, diversity, improvement, enjoyment, loyalty, honesty, innovation, quality, efficiency, excellence, flexibility, and dependability. When working with clients we highlight over 350 values and eventually the entire family business decides on their Top 5 to 10 backed with descriptions and explanations on how that behavior will show up in real-terms. What we don’t want is just a bunch of words that we call values.

Some values charters or statements are written in paragraph form, while others are written in list form. It doesn’t matter how you present your values statement, as long as the principles are clear enough to guide all the family members and employees.

Consider the following values statement by Samsung:

“We believe that living by strong values is the key to good business. At Samsung, a rigorous code of conduct and these core values are at the heart of every decision we make.

• People. Quite simply, the company is its people. At Samsung, we’re dedicated to giving our people a wealth of opportunities to reach their full potential.

• Excellence. Everything we do at Samsung is driven by an unyielding passion for excellence, and an unfaltering commitment to develop the best products and services on the market.

• Change. In today’s fast-paced global economy, change is constant and innovation is critical to a company’s survival. As we have done for 70 years, we set our sights on the future, anticipating market needs and demands so we can steer our company toward long-term success.

• Integrity. Operating in an ethical way is the foundation of our business. Everything we do is guided by a moral compass that ensure fairness, respect for stakeholders, and complete transparency.

• Co-prosperity. A business cannot be successful unless it creates prosperity and opportunities for others. Samsung is dedicated to being a socially and environmentally responsible corporate citizen in every community where we operate around the globe.

To realize our values, we follow these five principles:

• We comply with laws and ethical standards.

• We respect customers, shareholders, and employees.

• We are a socially responsible corporate citizen.

• We care for the environment, health, and safety.

• We maintain a clean organizational culture.”

This values statement is excellent. It provides a crystal clear code of conduct for employees, and also tells customers what they can expect from the company. Faced by the question, “What do we do in this difficult situation?” this well thought out values statement will provide the guidance needed by employees to take consistent action. It also tells customers exactly who Samsung is, and what they can expect of the organization.

In future articles, we will go through Building Your Family Values Charter and a Company Charter, that will help you determine your organization’s core values, then develop and write a compelling values statement.

Five Ways to Make Vision, Intentions, Purpose and Values Work

No matter how nicely written, when all is said the statements themselves are useless unless they are put into practice. How do you ensure that these statements have the intended impact on your family business and organization?

Here are five ways to ensure that these statements are understood and used:

1. Begin every internal meeting by reviewing the statements or final VIP & FVC document. The statements will be more likely to guide discussion and impact decisions and actions as the meeting progresses. This is a good opportunity to remind family members and employees why you are here, what your goals are, and what you stand for.

2. When big or difficult decisions are made, make it a mandatory step in the acceptance process to review both the decision and all statements, to ensure that they are complementary.

3. Make all statements part of your employees’ formal review process. Recognizing when employees adhere to statements, and rewarding them for doing so, will create greater buy-in.

4. Make sure internal and external communications, including advertisements, marketing pieces, and branding statements, complement your VIP & FVC.

5. Periodically review your statements, to determine that they are working. Ask questions like, “How did work over the past six months reflect our VIP & FVC? Over the past year?” and “In what ways did we model these to our family members, employees and our clients and customers?” and “When faced with difficult decisions, did the end result reflect the organization’s vision, intentions, purpose and values?

Aligning Your “Family” Vision, Intentions, Purpose and Values with Your “Business/Group”

When it comes to making sure that your organization’s vision, intentions, purpose, and values align with that of your family, I have one piece of simple advice: make sure your values complement one another, and the rest will follow. As I mentioned earlier, your values, your beliefs, perceptions, and attitudes, will naturally be reflected in your vision. Organizational values should not be radically different from family values. When it comes to code of conduct, people naturally feel most comfortable acting according to their own value system. An employee at a non-family business may be asked to follow a set of organizational values that differ significantly from his or her own. It’s not uncommon for an employee with a radically different value system to seek other employment, but more often than not different value systems result in lack of motivation or loyalty.

As a matter of fact, I’m willing to go so far as to say that differences in values play at least a small part, and sometimes a large part, in just about every poor performance review. One benefit in a family-run business is that vision, intentions, purpose and values between families and the organization are more easily aligned. Usually, for the most part, families, even extended families, share a values system, or at least some core values. They have similar feeling and perceptions about what is important. These values should be identified and carried through to the organization’s values statement. Aligning an individual’s values with that of an organization give’s an individual’s work meaning, and is very motivating.

As I mentioned earlier, as the generations go on and families grow, the value systems of extended families develop subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, differences. When this happens, and when people with different values have an equal say in decisions, the result can be lack of decision, or the type of inconsistent decisions that leave both employees and customers wondering who the organization really is, and what they stand for. In this situation, creating a values statement becomes more important than ever. Individuals from different families may not share identical values, but they should b able to identify the values they share in common, as well as those they feel are important to the family business.

These core values can then be used to govern actions and decisions, and serve as a code of conduct. Take some time to really think about VIP & FVC, and develop compelling statements that serve your organization, the individuals, and your customers. These statements aren’t just “feel good jargon,” they are important tools for ensuring that your organization meets its goals. Take them seriously, create statements that are meaningful and compelling, but don’t stop there. Put them into practice and, once in a while, assess how they’re working. They can also be linked to performance objectives for the entire organization.

While your vision and values won’t likely change over the short term, your intentions or mission may need to be tweaked depending upon how your organization responds to market needs. If the introduction of new products and services or the need to go in a different direction creates a different strategy, be sure to review and rewrite your list of intentions and mission statement. Great statements will ensure your employee’s actions and decisions are aligned with the good of the organization, and will provide a framework within which they can perform their roles.

In a future article, we’ll be discussing those roles in more detail, including how to assess for strengths and weaknesses, how to define roles, and how to ensure that family members are equipped with the education, experience, and skills necessary to function in those roles.


Vision, Intentions, Purpose and Values

What’s the Difference?

❑ Vision tells you where you want to go.

❑ Intentions tells you what you must do to get there.

❑ Purpose tells you why you are doing this.

❑ Values tells you how you will do the work to get there.

Developing Your Own VIP & FVC

❑ Vision, intentions, purpose and values are more than cutesy catchphrases.

❑ Vision should supply direction to workers in their day-to-day work, as well as when they are making big decisions.

❑ Your list of intentions and mission statement should complement your strategic plan and should change as your strategy changes.

❑ Your values charter and statement factors into both vision and intentions, so should be written at the same time as your vision statement and list of intentions.

❑ Through a strong set of values, employees, customers and clients understand exactly who you are.

Making Your VIP & FVC Work

❑ Begin every internal meeting by reviewing the three statements.

❑ Make reviewing statements a mandatory step when big decision are made, to ensure the decision aligns with the statements.

❑ Make all three statements part of your employees’ formal review process.

❑ Make sure internal and external communications align with your statements.

❑ Review your statements, and make changes if they aren’t working.

Aligning Your Family Vision with Your Business

❑ Organizational values should not be radically different from family values.

❑ Individuals from different families may not share identical values, but they should identify the values they share in common, as well as those they feel are important to the family business.

©2015, All Rights Reserved, Reg Athwal, RAW Group & RTS Global Partners; Extracts from the Book – “Unleash Your Family Business DNA”. 

For more information on how we can help you develop your VIP & FVC or Business Strategy, write to the author in confidence: reg@rtsgp.com.

About RTS Global Partners

We offer leading-edge scientific and practical advisory, consulting, education and venture solutions to family owned businesses and conglomerates, as well as large corporates with an entrepreneurial DNA. We also provide superior management consulting services for businesses who want to transform their human-capital and grow into new markets across Africa and Middle East.

As a rapidly-growing advisory and consulting firm, we have members supporting 100+ key clients in 8 countries and adding value to millions of employees with our collective knowledge capital, DNA systems and DNA processes. Our company is the creator of the ‘Unleash Your DNA’ brand and ‘The DNA Model’. 80 percent of our senior leadership team are client-facing professionals from different nationalities. We have plans to expand our Partner Network to 22 countries by 2022 across Africa and Middle East and service 22,000 clients, which is all part of our Vision 2022.

Contact us to learn more about how we can help you transform your business.


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