The 5 most important questions every organisation should ask itself by Peter Drucker is a simple book to read – but the thoughts it triggers grow on you and force you to think of things on a different scale.

While I was hesitant to read it at first because it reminded me of the text books one read in B-School, since it was part of the Reciprocity Book Club Reading list for the week, I hunkered down and read it.

And am glad I did.

I finally understand the difference in Mission and Vision and the difference it can make to organisations who take the trouble to define them along with their employees.

Here are some notes / takeaways from the book.

The 5 questions:
1.) What is our mission ?
2.) Who is our customer ?
3.) What does the customer value ?
4.) What are our results ?
5.) What is our plan ?

The answers are in the questions – Good Leaders come up with Answers. Great Leaders Ask the right questions

An organisation’s mission is its reason for being – it’s purpose –  its what inspires – its what you want to be remembered for.

Self discovery is an introspective and courageous journey that gives energy and courage to grow.

An organisations mission reflects the continuous tension between continuity and change – and orgs good at adapting change know what NOT to change

Know who your core target customers are – Deeply please them instead of casually pleasing everyone

If you have quick consensus on an important matter, don’t make the decision – It usually means nobody has done their homework

In essentials unity, in action freedom, in all things else Trust – Trust requires that dissent comes out in the open

People have a fundamental need to belong to something they can feel proud of – for guiding values and a sense of purpose that give their life and work meaning.

There are no irrational customers – they behave in the realm of their own realities and situation

Understand your assumptions and check if the value you think you are delivering is the same that the customer is valuing.

What does the primary customer value – E.g. the homeless people value meals and clean beds but what they really want is to be not homeless…a place from where they can start re building their lives

Learn to listen – E.g Improvement at Sinai Grace hospital with a simple wait time reduction for ER and fresh coat of paint

Customers value orgs which seek their feedback in solving their problem – more importantly, orgs which are ready to listen to their feedback to challenge and change time honoured customs to improve service to customers

Measure results qualitatively and quantitatively – Assess results to determine what must be strengthened or abandoned – Strengthen to match your mission

Anything which needs to be abandoned is usually resisted – People are attached to the obsolete – too much invested in managerial ego.

However, rebirth can begin once the dead are buried – and once that happens, people wonder what took them so long

Mission = Opportunities, Competence, Commitment

What is our purpose ? Why is that we do what we do ? What do we want to be remembered for ?

Vision describes the picture of the future when the mission has been achieved

Understand the difference between mission and vision

5 elements of effective plans

  • Abandonment – of what does not work
  • Concentration – of energies on what does work
  • Innovation – to look for tomorrow’s success – what are the opportunities, new conditions, emerging issues
  • Risk Taking – to balance the short and long term – some risks have to be taken
  • Analysis – To know what you may not know

Never really be satisfied – True self assessment and Leadership require constant resharpening, refocussing and never really being satisfied

Planning is not masterminding the future – The future is unpredictable
Make decisions based on principles.
Worth a Read.