Mission vs. Operations – How to Lose Your Way in One Easy Step

11 Sep

Do you know what the mission of your organization is and how it is achieved? If the mission is meaningful, I can guarantee you that daily operations only partially fulfill the mission. For really good companies, with real purpose, daily operations are only a small part of fulfilling the mission.

Image Credit: Jorjacoral Photography

Image Credit: Jorjacoral Photography

Consider a Five-and-Under’s soccer team. Their mission is to develop some social skills, get some exercise, and introduce the players to the concept of team. Achieving the objectives of this soccer team has surprisingly little to do with the actual playing of soccer. As the season progresses, however, there may be a temptation on the part of the team leadership to have the players learn a few more of the game skills, play the stronger players a little more, and hey, ‘would it be so bad if we won a game?!’

Practicing, playing and competing – these are the daily operations of a soccer team. There are many ways and under many different motivations that these operations can be carried out, but only one way that serves the mission. Same operations – different motives. It is when these operations take on a life of their own, apart from the mission, that an organization takes its first steps off the path, towards losing its way.

The mission needs to drive the objectives, not the operations. But it is the operations that we work with daily and it is the operations – not the mission – that carry deadlines and immediate expectations. It is not surprising then that an organization that does not live and breathe its mission can get side-tracked and eventually allow its operations to dictate an unintended direction.

The mission needs to drive the objectives, not the operations!

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