Much of what we do here at Arcade is based on the Wayfinding model. In short, Wayfinding is a model that focuses on three components:
- Understanding where you are
- Choosing where you want to be
- Finding the Way to get there
For each of those steps, we hone in on different tools. For understanding where we are right now, we use metrics: tools that let us measure how we’re doing, and help us see the way to improve. (More on that in a later post!) For choosing where you want to be, the gold standard is Mission Vision Values, and it’s a method of choosing a point on the horizon that is tried and true. Companies have been using Mission Vision Values statements for a long time to help point them in the right direction.
Still, for some reason, I have never been a fan. When we started helping companies, long before we started to actually develop the Wayfinding model, we often were called upon to help identify Mission Vision Values statements for our clients, and from the very beginning, I dragged my feet. “I don’t like Mission Vision Values,” I’d tell Jason. “I think we can do better.”
And Jason, in true Jason fashion, would shrug his shoulders and say “Show me. How do we do better?”
But it was early days for Arcade, and I wasn’t sure.
So, Mission Vision Values it was. And we came up with what I think were some pretty good ones. But I had to really put some thought into what it was I didn’t like about the current model. Here’s what I came up with:
If I sat down in a room with 30 businesspeople from all walks of life, and said “You have ten concepts to write down on paper. What ten things are important to being a strong business?” I would likely get ten scraps of paper that look the same. Honesty, Efficiency, Responsibility, Trust, Responsiveness, Quality, Value… I’m not even to ten, and I’m covering a LOT of ground here. I think that a lot of Mission Vision Values statements, by being broad enough to encompass as many ideals as you want, leave no room for individuality.
If you have to pick one single concept from that list, the personalities of the companies in the room suddenly diverge really quickly. One company values speed of service, another honesty, a third tradition, a fourth innovation. None of these is a right answer, or a better answer, these are unique answers – guiding answers.
So then, our ‘better way’ would push for more focus – would push the business in question to make tough choices.
We believe, at Arcade, that the most balanced companies often see a dichotomy at the top of the organization. You have a dreamer, a big picture thinker who propels the company forward, sometimes on little more than the merit of an idea, and a ‘Nuts and Bolts’ guy (not gender specific – we have known many Nuts and Bolts gals!) who tends to the details – the concrete, day to day operations. Without both of these influences at the top of the company, you’ll often see a sense of unbalance – a missing piece.
In my mind, Mission Vision Values statements are unbalanced in this way. They focus on the ‘Big Picture’ without really paying attention at all to the nuts and bolts. You could read through a great many Mission Vision Values statements and have no idea what the company in question actually does.
So, point two. Arcade’s Wayfinding tool would need a bit more of a ‘nuts and bolts’ spin, to keep it grounded in the real day to day operations of a company, while still looking out toward the horizon to make room for big dreams.
No Gears, No Teeth
Finally, we come to my last pet peeve about Mission Vision Values. In order to use a tool, it needs working parts – Gears, to pull a thing along into happening – teeth, to put a fire under us to get a thing done. We are lazy creatures, human beings, and we don’t really like change. Our tools need to carry some of that weight, and give us a little kick in the pants. If we define a lofty sounding goal, then put it on our website and our front window, what is to help us move toward that goal? What is to push us to do something about it?
Too often, in our experience with Wayfinding, businesses spend a lot of time and energy to define these goals, then consider the job done. They dust their hands off, share their beautiful idea with the world, and go right back to the business-as-usual that was never taking them to that well-crafted destination.
Our method, then, would need to be a tool that would give us a way to tell whether or not we are moving closer to our destination, and to motivate us to take real, measurable action to move toward that goal.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure I may be ruffling a few feathers here. Many businesses like their Mission Vision Values, after all, and some have, in this same mentality, crafted tools that address all of these issues. You absolutely can address all of this with the right Mission Vision Values.
Remember though, that I have a background in education. And in my mind, educational tools bear a very specific burden. It isn’t enough that a tool can succeed, if you use it just right. Think about a USB drive. You can’t plug it in backwards. Unless you are pretty determined to ignore the signals, you can’t break it, you can’t misuse it. It forces you to plug it in the right way. That’s how a well designed tool works. It, by its very engineering, causes you to use it correctly. That’s the kind of tool I wanted to design for Wayfinding.
So, I built the first draft of Compass, Code, and Strategy. A Wayfinding method that addresses all of these issues, and is lightweight, useful, and hard to break. I brought it to my ‘Nuts and Bolts’ guy, and we tempered it into a tool that really works. Want to know more? You’re in luck. We’re detailing the Compass, Code, and Strategy method all month in our podcast, The Critical Path with Mary and Jason. Watch for a new episode on Thursday. We’ll talk about what it is, how it works, and then walk through the development of our own Compass, Code and Strategy, live and in real time.
Interested in assistance developing your Compass, Code, and Strategy? Call Arcade today and let’s talk about how we can help.