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Pawel Brodzinski on Software Project Management

Strategy versus Reality

Yesterday, when I was writing about forgetting to look under your feet I forgot about one, very typical, example. It’s when The Great Board of Directors introduces something I call internal strategy – usually it’s official company strategy (or Strategy I should say) wrapped into Mission Statements, Creeds, Company Rules every employee should follow etc.

Those big words usually say something about customer satisfaction, creativity, improving quality and so on. Those big words usually obscure the true motto of the company: making more money. Those big words are usually empty. If you asked average headcount er… employee about them in the pub he would say where he had all those slogans. And believe me, it wouldn’t be a heart.

For The Great Board of Directors this internal strategy is usually a way of improving quality and customer satisfaction, promoting creativity and making company a better place. They actually believe that prominently displayed mission statement makes the work better. They really do. They believe that something like company system can be born only by stating it exists. Ignorance is bliss.

Our mission statement (small letters on intent) goes something like that: “We’re trying hard to do our work well, because then our customers like us more and it makes more money for us.” Sure, go shoot me – wasn’t I ranting about that stuff above? You got me, I was. But we don’t have any mission statement prominently displayed all over the place. We don’t even had it announced in any way. It doesn’t exist in terms of people used to consider it. We just (try to) work like that. When we can choose between fixing a bug in a faster or more proper way, we choose the latter. We don’t leave totally-minor issues unsolved, even when forgetting them costs us zero dollars. We don’t read the agreement literally when it comes to decide whether the issue is a bug or an issue. Oh, at least not always. It’s all about doing, not talking.

The Real Mission Statement is created by organization’s rank and file employees and their everyday actions, not by management and their announcements.

in: communication, entrepreneurship, team management

2 comments… add one

  • Craig Brown April 24, 2007, 11:42 pm

    Hi Pawel,

    I think you are being a bit harsh on the strategenauts (people who work in the strategisphere.)

    Mission statement and the like help larger firms with diverse and ditributed wokforces. It’s good to have a leader articulate a vision.

    But – vision and leadership is not just about writing words down it’s about execution nd that begins with doing your job well.

  • Pawel Brodzinski April 25, 2007, 12:39 am

    Yes, I am harsh about them, but that’s not without a reason. As an employee I saw several mission statement – none of them had any leverage to work of mine or my colleagues.

    I was talking with a list of people from different companies and in vast majority of cases it works exactly the same – zero effect in everyday work.

    Sure, leaders should have a vision and they should show the vision to (possibly) whole company. But here’s the difference: show, not announce. Somehow Google shows to their employees the creed “do no evil,” so it’s possible, but I guess implementing the vision was far from sending an e-mail to everyone: “Hey, that’s our new Mission Statement. Learn it. Quick, quick.” They just work, from the very beginning in the way that doesn’t cross the creed. They recruit people who are capable to work the same way. They show people it’s worth to follow their leaders.

    The trap is that most of leaders think, their words have creative power. In some way that’s true. In case of implementing internal strategy they often create empty laughter.

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