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Step by step guide to co-defining a mission and vision statement


Gabi - May 18, 2021 - 0 comments

Before starting Better Social Design, I worked for almost 5 years building Garage2020, a network of innovation labs for youth care in The Netherlands.

In this blog I will take you by the hand in how we defined the mission and vision of Garage2020.

What do I mean by co-defining?

Since we are starting something with a new team, it was important to involve everyone in the definition of the vision & mission for several reasons:

  • It creates a sense of belonging and ownership with this new team
  • We are inclusive with everyone’s point of view
  • There is a lot of inspiration
  • People get to know each other in a fun workshop
  • We make sure we create a shared understanding of where we want to go and what we stand for
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Before the Workshop

  1. Look for an inspiring location, not where you are regularly working, so people change setting and be more open and creative.

2. Invite the participants to the workshop. Explain what the activities will be and what is expected from them. Share an agenda for the day.

In our case, everyone had to prepare and bring 10 inspiring factors to share with the group that would be used as input for the Vision & Mission exercise. These 10 inspiring factors could be anything: trends and developments in society or tech, conversations they have had in the past weeks, something they heard in the radio, an article form the newspaper, a book a movie, a thought, but also principles and facts, wherever these insights come from does not matter as long as they are related to youth care and the reasons why setting it up De Garage is so important.

These factors will be used during the kick off day as stepping stones to build the mission. There are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ factors, as long as they are personal and they inspire you.

3. Define the outcome of the day. Managing expectations is very important.

For us, the desired outcome of the day was to formulate a mission, vision, values and qualities which will help us take decisions and give a direction to everything we do.

What did the day look like?

08:30–09:00 Walk in and coffee chit chats

Good to give room for eventual delays to make sure we start at 9:00 sharp.

09:00–09:45 De Garage: recap of why we are here today. Icebreaker.

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Our target audience are children, adolescents and parents facing difficult situations. Since sometimes it is impossible to bring them in the room, a video interview was shown to keep in mind who we are doing things for.

For the Icebreaker, everyone was asked to write their worries on a post-it, then fold it and put it inside their pocket. This way, they park whatever is distracting so they can fully focus.

Afterwards, everyone had to write their expectations for the day on a post-it. Why writing it before hand is good? Because you give people the time to think, and also helps the introverts speak out. Why is it important to ask to write the expectations of the day? Well, it just makes people feel more responsible for reaching the desired outcome.

09.45–12.00 Defining the Mission and Vision based on ViP methodology

This exercise based on the Vision in Product Design Methodology.

Vision — How will the world of social care look like in 5 to 10 years?

Mission — What do we want to achieve or have achieved by then?

Values – In which way do we want to achieve it?

We started by sharing our inspiring factors, since we were with 12 people and time was limited, we chose the top 5 factors to share with the group.

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Make sure you capture everything!

The facilitator’s role was key to really get the underlying factor on a Post-it. The wall slowly started filling up with statements. The discussion in between were very interesting and sometimes the dots were connected to come up with very nice factors to build our mission.

Once everyone had shared their inspiration, we clustered the statements into categories. Each category had a name and grouped several statements.

This is our future context!

Now we could formulate a better Vision and Mission. Everyone had 10 minutes to write it down separately, using the following format:

With Garage2020 I want to achieve ………. by ……….

So we had 12 Mission Vision statements. All a bit different and sometimes complementary. Now we had to narrow it down to one, shared, statement. But that was for later… now time to refuel!

12.00–13.00 Lunch

We went out for a sunny terrace in Amsterdam! 🙂 Walking there was nice and gave a chance to meet everyone a bit better in a super relaxed setting.

13.00–15.00 Getting the team to know each other with Teamily

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A tool developed by Teamily with 16 roles

We will work together with Teamily: a startup that helps startups teams with information about themselves, and how they can work even better.

So, we gathered around this big carpet and we were asked which team role comes more natural to us. Everyone started to get a bit nervous and moved around the carpet thinking where to position. Funny thing was that according to the computer test, the results were quite different than what people initially thought their natural role was! The key takeaway here was: be aware of team roles, there are no absolute roles, everyone has a bit of several roles. Each project phase asks for a team member to assume a certain role, and when you are aware of this, you can form temporary teams that will perform at its best.

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15.00–16.00 Startup Context

Since De Garage team is multidisciplinary, we have data scientists and developers on board, design thinking, startups background and of course the specialists in “youth care”. This is absolutely amazing! So much more inspiring than a regular team, but it means not everyone knows how startups work or is familiar with lean startup methodology. Since for De Garage we have only 6 months to build ventures, it was very important to give an intro to the topic.

Based on my experience working at Idealabs, the first vertical accelerator in Belgium, I gave an introduction to: startups, accelerators, incubators, what is an MVP (Minimum Viable Product), what is a VC (Venture Capitalist) and an Angel Investor. Also introduced them to the lean methodology principles.

16.00–17.00 Concrete appointments and practical details

Setting up the communication channels: Trello for project management & Slack for communication. We agreed on dates and practical ToDo’s.

To close the day we used the experience map (in Dutch) from Jaap Boonstra. We had to answer the question: Where do I stand when it comes to Garage2020, and where do I want to stand in 3 months? This exercise helps people express how are they feeling about starting this journey, what worries them, what do they find exciting… It is a nice exercise to close a session like this one.

That is it for now! I hope this helps you formulate your own shared Mission/Vision!

Ours was:

Garage2020 makes youth care redundant.

With the intention to be bold and make some waves, knowing that we were extremely ambitious. A good conversation starter.

And after 4 years we did a rebranding and fine tuned our mission statement, which did not need to be as bold anymore.

It was an awesome journey filled of learnings.

I cant wait to see what Better will bring!

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