Our firm’s office lease was due to expire in about six months, so we began the process of evaluating new office space. I distinctly remember walking into a vacant space that we were considering. The space had a reception area that had lock-off functionality from the main office. The real estate broker knew that we had this on our spec list so he was pointing out the virtues of the lock-off entrance. As he was opening and closing the door that created the secure separation, I inquired about the plaque behind the door.

The broker got a puzzled look on his face and asked what I was referring to. I said, “The plaque on the wall, behind the door. What does it say?”

It seems that the previous tenant had forgotten to grab the plaque that proudly displayed their vision statement, mission statement and company values. They had invested time and energy at some point in their history to define these cornerstones of their firm.

I wondered, did they miss them?

Had they used the move as a time to update the plaque, make it more prominent, reinforce its importance and reemphasize its vitality to the success of their organization? Or, was it merely a “check the box” exercise that didn’t create a true north nor deliver significant value – easily forgotten and left behind during the move?

I’m guessing the latter. It’s been my experience over the years that few firms leverage the importance of an effective statement of purpose, mission and values as a living, breathing part of their organization’s success and impact DNA. My experience has been that business owners and exec teams create these but rarely do they become the foundation for defining who they are and who they’re not, where they’re going, and how they will get there, who they hire and who they pass on. The behaviors they tolerate from their people and the behavioral non-negotiables.

Sadly, it’s just window dressing.

Do you have such a declaration? Is it dynamic or static? Does it have a life or is it behind the door? Out-front or left behind? Does it REALLY help you say yes and-or no to opportunities that may come your way?

I still have the plaque containing that firm’s vision, mission, and values.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you think you may have forgotten or lost yours.