An organization’s vision, mission, and values are its heart and soul. They act as the North Star that guides all organizational activities, from strategy to execution. Male Contraceptive Initiative identified the need to update and revise these defining organizational statements in order to improve our impact and better evolve towards and align with current realities.
The initial manifestation of MCI’s vision was more of an attempt to define what the organization is rather than what hopeful reality we work to achieve together. As such, it was too vague and lacked the potential to inspire. The objective became to succinctly state our shared vision as an effective call-to-action. This led to an initial re-articulation of, “We envision a world where everyone has the resources necessary for reproductive autonomy.” We sought to improve this, and further reduce the wording.
The team sought to reduce the vision statement to such a degree that it could act as a rallying cry. We wanted to arrive at a provocative statement that both accurately captures our work and inspires people to engage with us in order to learn more, or even participate. Considering all of this, we collectively arrived at, “Reproductive Autonomy for All” as MCI’s new vision statement.
Having such a succinct, provocative vision statement all but ensures a questioning reaction from many audiences. We seek to preempt many of these potential responses by expanding the vision statement such that we define each of the pertinent words in a way that clearly illustrates the meaning of each to our organization. In this way, we are able to own the language of our vision in a more intimate, meaningful manner, and our deliberateness in word selection is clearly illustrated to audiences.
As the organization transitions to a new vision, it is necessary to also update the mission statement as this ultimately answers the “why” and “how” of the vision. MCI’s current statement falls short of answering these questions and is too lengthy to be memorable. To address this, we worked to reframe our vision statement-cum-rallying cry in order to transition from a level of abstraction to one of articulation.
Considering all of this, we collectively arrived at, “Our mission is to empower men, and couples, to fully contribute to family planning goals by providing them the resources they need for reproductive autonomy.” as MCI’s new mission statement. This answers both the “why” (i.e., to empower men and couples to achieve the reproductive autonomy they currently lack) and the “how” (i.e., by providing resources that currently do not exist). This also allows us to explore translating this to tangible activities necessary to accomplish the mission.
As with the vision statement, we worked to preempt many potential questions or responses by expanding the mission statement as well. The mission statement contains additional pertinent words that allow us the opportunity to further define words and phrases in our terms. This adds an additional layer of detail and complexity to the organization initiated by the vision statement. This cascading effect continues to take additional shape and deeper meaning as it’s translated into MCI’s guiding principles.
MCI has yet to clearly define what its guiding principles are. We rely upon the existing vision and mission statement to present who we are and what we do in hopes that this will illustrate why we are doing it and how our activities tie back to such. As we move forward, defining our guiding principles will be critical in ensuring continued alignment from our vision to our mission to our activities. These principles are really benchmarks for staff and board to evaluate activities and ensure they are as “vision-aligned” as possible moving forward.
In order to retroactively define MCI’s principles, we first set out to evaluate the activities and investments (of time, money, and resources) in order to identify any emergent themes. We then set about reframing these themes into brief value statements that allow for expanded interpretation. We arrived at six core values:
Defining the core values allows for strategic objectives and daily activities to be aligned with the organization’s mission in order to achieve its vision. MCI’s funding and advocacy efforts have been mapped to its core values in the accompanying graphic. This helps to illustrate our collective evolution from Vision to Mission to Principles and, finally, Activities. This articulation and framework affords staff and board a cohesive baseline for evaluating opportunities, addressing challenges, and moving forward in a more vision-aligned manner.
The vision, mission, principles, and activities emerged from joint engagements with MCI’s board and staff, with the facilitated assistance of outside consultants. The emergent organizational ethos system (i.e., Vision informing Mission defining Principles directing Activities) presents a clear articulation of the “why” and “how” of Male Contraceptive Initiative. This, in turn, has organically developed benchmarks with which to evaluate opportunities as we have clearly defined the ideal world we are working to realize and the mechanisms in which we will create the change we wish to see in the world.
We encourage you to join us on our journey and to share your thoughts with us. We’d specifically like to know what “Reproductive Autonomy for All” means to you, so please share your thoughts via this survey today.