Don’t panic! That isn’t a real math formula. Although I admit that I am a bit of a math geek (and a spreadsheet ninja), this article is not about math. However, if you get hives when you see formulas or hear terms like “order of operations”, read no further.

For years, I heard people talk of “mission, vision, and values”. As I began developing the iNautilus™ methodology, it became apparent that one of the problems in “strategic planning” was the “order of operations”. That’s what the title of this post is about… order of operations. “CV” is core values, “M” is mission, “V” is vision, “t” is time, and “N” is Navigation. In other words, the formula “((CV+M) · V) · t=N” can be read as, “The core values and mission throughout the vision as it’s realized on the journey is what organizational navigation is all about.”

You might be thinking, “So what?”. I have alluded to the reason this is important in previous articles, but the bottom line is that order is crucial. The mission grows out of the core values, and the vision is determined by the mission. Think about it, oh Captain. (That was a reference to my previous article “Organizational Navigation???” AND a loose reference to the poem by Walt Whitman). Why would you choose a port of entry to end your voyage if you do not yet know your cargo? How can you even determine your cargo without first knowing what kind of vessel you have (if your ship is designed for passenger transport, then it is likely poorly suited for hauling containers en masse.) The analogy is not perfect, but it should still illustrate the point. Order matters.

I posit that an organization’s core values must come first. Stating a mission without core values in place is like choosing what you are transporting without first identifying what your ship can haul. And selecting a vision without core values and mission established is like choosing an end port before knowing the cargo.

That brings us to goals. Goals are fantastic! Goals help people and organizations achieve bigger and better things. But an organization that has goals without a vision is prone to wandering. Every goal should help move the organization toward a vision. Without that vision, goals are not leading anywhere. Navigation demands perspective, purpose, and a plan in motion, or ((CV+M) ·V) · t.