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The Fast Company Executive Board is a private, fee-based network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.

Business changing? 15 ways to keep the original mission intact

Steer your team of leaders and employees in the right direction.

Business changing? 15 ways to keep the original mission intact
Members of Fast Company Executive Board share their expert insights. [Image: Courtesy of the individual members.]

Business and technological solutions may be changing every day, but your concept for launching a successful startup in the first place doesn’t always have to. In today’s tight and uncertain economy, full of new ideas, services, products, and platforms, how do you ensure that the team will continue to align and carry out your company’s initial values and expectations?

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To equip other leaders worried about these same issues, experts from Fast Company Executive Board provide 15 ways to keep your original company concept and mission top of mind and in place. The team can continue a focused journey on where the company stands, which also includes flexibility and openness to innovative ideas about the future of daily workflow.

1. WRITE IT DOWN.

Much like goals, a mission not written is only a wish. Writing down the mission and vision statement for an organization and regularly reemphasizing and reiterating it as an internal mantra and battle-cry is critical to maintaining the original mission of the founder and his or her organization. Implementing this in the startup phase ensures you map out your corporate direction for years to come. – Tyrone Foster, InvestNet, LLC

2. HONOR COMPANY CULTURE.

I think that it’s difficult to honor the founder’s original mission in this day and age when startups need to be flexible and pivot quickly from failure. However, it’s more important to focus on the culture of the company and make sure that it’s honored. – Carl Hung, Season Group

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3. EMBED ‘MISSION MOMENTS.’ 

Embed “mission moments” in everyday interactions. How are your efforts supporting and tied back to your mission? It starts with new employee orientation and policies and procedures that go above and beyond to create an emotional connection to the company’s mission. – Britton Bloch, Navy Federal

4. CREATE AN ACTION PLAN.

Honoring a founder’s mission is at the heart of the work, acting as a compass for the overall journey. It needs to be intentionally put at the forefront of the work. Although the world of business and technology may change on a daily basis, startups can keep the vision in the forefront by leading with a mission in their actions and planning and by creating metrics that connect to mission-oriented outcomes. – Leigh Burgess, Bold Industries Group, Inc.

5. DON’T COMPROMISE YOUR IDENTITY.

Founders or entrepreneurs usually challenge the status quo, which leads them to unchartered territories with lots of unknowns and challenges. But what really keeps them going is the mission and vision, which are the key drivers. If these get compromised, the organization starts to lose its identity. Hence, I think it’s really important for new leaders to honor the original mission. – Avik Pal, CliniOps, Inc.

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6. FOCUS ON THE THINGS THAT MATTER.

At my company, we understand that the true boss is our customer, and all decisions are focused on our caffeinated customer experience. Focusing on the experience and explaining it to our executives is on the top of my daily tasks – Brandon Pena, BIP Media Group

7. BE REPETITIVE.

Repetition is key. Beat the culture drum over and over. Document the “why” clearly and integrate the mission into all daily work activities. Hire those who are not only just a good fit but who can also evolve the founder’s mission and create something greater. Reassess frequently. People respect what you inspect. – Jacob Warwick, ThinkWarwick

8. HIRE THE RIGHT TEAM.

Are you hiring the right team to help achieve your founder’s mission statement? It’s important to ensure the talent joining your team shares the same core values and passion and is joining the company for the right reasons. – Mo Ghoneim, Arts Help

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9. REVIEW AND REEVALUATE YOUR MISSION.

Identify ways that the original mission can be incorporated into every aspect of the company from marketing and finance to operations. Allow employees to review and make changes to processes, ensuring the changes are still aligned with the mission. Empowering employees to review and reevaluate the mission keeps the ideas alive and relevant, reminding them of why the business was started. – Alice Hayden, H2 IT Solutions

10. ENGAGE AND EMPOWER EMPLOYEES.

Having a thriving company culture is a great reference point for businesses to stay on track with their original mission. Culture influences your hiring decisions, which in turn impacts your product. Employees should feel empowered while also feeling engaged and connected with their work. At sunday, we make sure everyone has one day working in a restaurant to truly understand the impact that we are having on the industry. – Christine de Wendel, sunday

11. SPREAD AND ADOPT CULTURE. 

It’s all about spreading and adopting the culture, but as easy as it sounds, one of the main challenges and obstacles for any start-up is adopting the culture. But how to do it? Your purpose and mission have to be bold and simple. The owner or founder must walk the talk and lead with action. Finally, be repetitive and establish a manifesto that’s easy to follow. – Fernando Anzures, EXMA Global

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12. MAKE IT MORE ACCESSIBLE.

Executives need to inculcate the original mission and values of a company’s founders by distilling them into everyday practices like objectives and key results, performance reviews, team standups, and more. By breaking it all down and making it all more accessible to each employee, executives can ensure they’re honoring the founder’s vision. – Suchit Tuli, Quantime

13. KNOW THE ‘WHY.’

Know why your company exists and why you came to be in the first place. Founders bring a solution to a need, creating a better way to do something, born out of their distinct life experiences and perspectives. If you are clear on the “why” of your business’s origin, even as products evolve over the years, the essence of your brand will remain authentic to the founder’s ethos. – Liza Streiff, Knopman Marks Financial Training

14. ALIGN CLEAR VALUES EARLY.

Founders often struggle to hand off key functions because they don’t trust that their vision will be honored. I see this again and again, and if not managed, it can limit a company’s growth potential. This is why leaders need to clarify their values early on and align everything they do with these values. This is particularly important when recruiting talent. – Camille Preston, AIM Leadership, LLC

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15. PLANT THE SEED AND PREACH.

For the last 10 years, we have preached the mission of our company. It’s visible on our landing page, it’s reinforced in our marketing, and the message is carried by all members of our team. We prioritize it in the hiring process. We speak about it in meetings when we’re facing challenges. It sits atop all else. This has worked wonders for us over the last decade. The roots of the mission are deep. –Richard RB Botto, Stage 32

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