From Values to Vision: Meister Executive Search’s Path to Purpose

In today’s fast-paced and ever-evolving business landscape, the heart and soul of a company lies in its values, mission and vision. Far from being just words on a page, these elements are the guiding stars that navigate a business through the complexities of the modern marketplace. They are the foundation upon which a company’s culture is built and the lens through which strategic decisions are made. At a time when employees and customers alike seek authenticity and purpose, a well-defined set of values and a clear vision are not just important – they are essential. They foster a sense of belonging, drive innovation and create a shared purpose that resonates with every stakeholder. This article describes our journey of introspection and collaboration to shape our core values and vision, ensuring that they not only reflect who we are, but also guide us towards what we want to become.

Setting the Stage and Gathering Insights

In the spring of 2023, nine employees representing the diverse talents and perspectives within Meister Executive Search (MES) came together for a workshop designed to tap into the collective insights of the team. The session began with a brief overview of what makes a company’s values effective and why they’re so important. This led to the first interactive exercise: a “360-degree values circle”, where the room was lined with ten large A3 posters. Each poster posed a specific question, covering topics ranging from past achievements and future challenges (“What do you think is the biggest challenge MES has overcome?”) to the nature of teamwork (“What do you appreciate about working with MES colleagues?”). Others explored the emotional and associative links employees had with MES, such as colour associations, songs or the animal they felt best represented the company. Armed with markers, the participants embarked on a creative journey around the room. They had just one minute at each poster to jot down their spontaneous thoughts before moving on to the next. This time constraint was crucial, as it sparked immediate and genuine responses.

Once everyone had made their rounds, the real magic began. The room was transformed into a hive of discussion as we pooled and dissected the responses on each poster. The openness of the exercise brought to light previously unspoken insights and sparked a lively debate that lasted for about an hour and a half.

After the first exercise, we shifted our focus to a more challenging but equally important aspect: defining the company’s vision. Recognising that creating a vision is a complex endeavour, we approached it with an innovative and creative method inspired by the “Crazy 8s” approach.

Employees were asked to envision eight different futures in which MES had been recognised for an extraordinary achievement with significant social impact. They were asked to imagine a news article celebrating MES’s achievement and to consider what kind of contribution or achievement it would be.

The uniqueness of this exercise was not only in generating ideas, but also in the visual representation of these ideas. Each participant was given one minute per concept to both articulate and illustrate their vision. After an intense eight-minute brainstorming session, each team member shared their most compelling visions. This collective sharing and discussion were key to bringing the different perspectives together.

Crystalising MES’ Values and Vision

After the first workshop, it was time to distil the myriad of ideas into a coherent set of company values and a vision statement. This phase was about synthesis and articulation, transforming the raw input into the essence of what MES stands for.

The lively discussions resulted in a set of ten values. These values were then carefully evaluated for their distinctiveness and ability to foster a strong sense of identification among employees and stakeholders. This process led us to our guiding principle: “Erfolgsjäger mit Herz und Humor: Gemeinsam suchen, finden, meistern und begeistern” (Success Hunters with Heart and Humour: Together we search, find, master, and inspire).

The vision for MES required a nuanced approach. We developed three different vision proposals, each with a different emphasis. Some were more focused on current services, while others left room for new businesses and growth. We also considered whether the visions were aimed at a single type of customer or at multiple target groups. Gathering feedback from all stakeholders was a crucial step. This collaborative approach ensured that the final vision resonated with everyone at MES. After much discussion and revision, we settled on a vision that aligned with our aspirations and values: “To become the preferred growth partner for Swiss companies, talents and employees”. This vision not only encapsulates our current strengths, but also paves the way for future expansion and diversification. It’s a vision that commits us to excellence and growth, not only for MES, but also for our partners and the wider community we serve.

Reflecting and embedding the new company values

In the summer, we held our second workshop, combined with our summer staff party. The aim was twofold: to introduce the newly established company values and vision to the whole team, and to ensure that these principles really resonated and were internalised by everyone. 

We revisited the interactive poster format, with the company values displayed around the room. Participants were encouraged to think deeply about each value and write down their thoughts. They gave real-life examples of how they’d seen these values in action, suggested ways to strengthen them, identified potential challenges to implementation, and rated how much they identified with each value on a scale of 0-3. This activity was followed by a group discussion that allowed for an open and insightful exchange of perspectives.

To further embed the values in our culture, the second part of the workshop included a novel activity called the “Values Story Challenge”. The aim was for each team to create a fictional, yet creative and humorous story set in the context of MES. The challenge involved weaving in a unique MES innovation, incorporating five random words provided by another team, and subtly integrating at least three of the discussed values into the story. Each team then had to present their story, offering a blend of imagination and teamwork.

Reflecting on our journey in defining MES’ values and vision, it’s clear that it was a unifying and enjoyable experience. Through thoughtful discussions, creative challenges and shared laughter, we have not only shaped our guiding principles, but also brought us closer together as a team and forged a united front for our exciting future.

Article written by Lara Aebischer, CFR Global Executive Search Switzerland
Photo source: CFR Global Executive Search Switzerland


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