In order to intentionally state Mission, Vision & Values for Mercury Mosaics, it needed to feel like it represents us now, where we’re headed and be a community-driven process. As the Founder & CEO of a small but mighty business I’ve been thinking about what this would look like and how to approach it inclusively since 2017 and have it not wind-up feeling like corporate jargon. If I had any advice, it’s not to overthink things. I’ve erred on doing things too quickly at Mercury Mosaics, but I’ve also erred on waiting. This is one of those things. However, we must not dwell in our failures, we acknowledge them and move onward and upward.
2020 proved to be a key year of transformation for Mercury Mosaics from the inside out. I phased out of the longest position I have held since the birth of Mercury Mosaics: selling the dream, one project at a time. The letting go was in an empowering way and while for most years of Mercury Mosaics we’ve primarily been 80% manufacturing and 20% “everything else” it was clear for me in 2019 we needed to activate all of the other important areas, first and foremost, all while I was primarily working on selling the dream one kitchen at a time. In order to advocate for all areas of the company becoming aware of one another a Synergy Plan was activated. Simpler names for divisions of the company were rolled out and lots of work was put into intentionality behind job descriptions, job functions and accountability models. From there – How Tos… lots of How Tos and then dialing in the analytics of each area – making sure we’re measuring the things that matter. In 2021 it’s about tying it all together with a Strategic Plan. To roll out a strategic plan we’d need a guiding light!
Forming our Leadership Team
From a recent book recommendation by Megan Tamte that I’ve been devouring, BE 2.0 – Turning your Business into an Enduring Great Company:
“A great company thrives on communication. Effective leaders stimulate constant communication: up, down, sideways, group, individual, company-wide, written, oral, formal, informal. They work towards having a continual hum of communication throughout the organization.”
After a survey we sent to the entire team in early 2020, communication in many forms was the missing element and it was time for Mercury Mosaics to shift from a sweet, simmering, beautiful 16-year start-up glide and level-up into the artisan leader that can be. This is where more intentionality in job descriptions and accountability trees would come into play and we’d use growth plans to guide the change to be a balance of gradual yet accelerated change at the same time.
Who’s going to hold the guiding light? Our leadership team in community & collaboration. For some of the leadership team, this would be their first time making big picture decisions, suggesting change, having a direct report, building an entire division from scratch or for that matter being head of a division with more than 20 people. We were ushering a lot of change in how our teams are organized. This would lay the groundwork for what a shared vision is all about.
Quoting a favorite book, BE 2.0 – Turning your Business into an Enduring Great Company:
“Vision lays the groundwork for the company to evolve past dependence on a few key individuals. Shared vision creates cohesion, teamwork & community.”
Shifting from Owner/Founder/Mover/Shaker to Founder & CEO
I never have been a front of house leader… it’s not me. Remember, I set out to have a day job related to tile, I’m no Steve Jobs. I’d much rather have my team getting the credit. I want to guide from behind the operational scenes in a way that’s natural to me if I’m going to fully embrace this role and all the responsibilities to it. If I’m not selling the tile, what will I call myself? Time to shift from being ‘Owner/Founder/Mover/Shaker’ to Founder & CEO this was also something to kick off 2021 with. It would also clearly be a line of demarcation of ending the years of operating like a small startup. I am still getting used to it. I can’t just whip up a new idea anymore without a lot of research, coordination, and planning. This is a new muscle. Certainly, I’ve called myself a CEO, depending on the form I had to sign, but ultimately 2021 will be the first year with this role from start to end.
Being a CEO is something that does not come naturally to me. In fact I much preferred to think I could groom someone other than myself in this role and I also looked outside of the company for support and it was not sustainable. All roads kept pointing to me and although I felt I was not cut out for this level of responsibility; it became clear I just needed to start from exactly where I was. One of the things I did in 2020 to start educating & preparing myself was to go through a program called CEO Next. It was a follow up to my recently completed Streetwise Mini MBA with the Small Business Administration & Interise (where our Wadena project was dreamt up: more on this in another post). With Interise, what I can tell you about the Streetwise MBA program is that their mission of creating an inclusive economy by supporting established small businesses that are located in low-income communities or are minority owned aligns with Mercury Mosaics mission, vision and values. CEO Next was recommended by my mentor Glenn Ford of InCity Farms who led my Streetwise MBA curriculum. I also gained an invaluable mentor with Glenn who feels more like an older brother watching out for the future and potential of Mercury Mosaics and the team than a business associate. If you work around me long enough, one of the things you’ll hear me say is that I look, continually, at ways I can “get out of the way at Mercury Mosaics”. Having business coaches and mentors is one of those ways. Based on the knowledge and understanding of business I gain from these outlets, I’m able to bring their principles to life in how we lead the meaning of growth at Mercury Mosaics. We would later discuss why we are growing at our 4th Quarter meeting in 2020 and kick off strategic planning to foster this growth to fuel a new era in our tile world in 2021.
Second Stage Companies
Companies that have reached second stage, which can be defined as advancing beyond startup phase but haven’t reached maturity. They typically have 10 to 99 employees and generate about $1 million to $50 million and desire to scale. That’s quite a large range, but we are right in the beginning part of this and the CEO Next program was designed to help companies like ours where everything you used to get to where you are will no longer get you to where you’re going. Staying the same only creates disharmony and in seeing this, I can fully understand why small businesses fail and if you don’t love what you do, I can also see why people quit and close shop. One of my ultimate goals in life is to help people. Not in the ‘kumbaya’ sort of way… as my mom used to tell me with skepticism: “Mercedes, everyone is not going to sit around a campfire and sing kumbaya!” to which I respond: “I know mom… I know… it’s not like that.” Ultimately, I want to help other dreamers out there to create businesses that they can be proud of without sacrificing what’s important to them while ensuring they are taking care of the team they will need to succeed. If my experiences can help them to save time while empowering them to have some of the lessons I’ve learned the hard way – a bit sooner – this continues to fulfill me and what gets me up each morning. This is what the Edward Lowe foundation’s grant did in covering my fees to participate in the CEO Next Program.
Mission, Vision & Values
I’m moved, inspired & proud of our leadership team and their tireless work to bring these foundational pieces to life through rigorous work, planning, listening, and collaborating. For a 3-day workshop in January, a follow up workshop in February and a series of pieces to get our project management & execution off the ground, we’ve launched our Strategic Plan.
Our purpose & existence as an organization is illustrated in our Mission:
We’d need a challenge, something to aspire to, something to fuel what the future could look like, it needed to be an engaging & meaningful adventure. We collectively dreamt up a Vision to guide us from now to 2026. If we were going to embark on this adventure and not only exist, sustain & thrive in the process, we’d need a moral compass for our organization to guide decision-making and to establish a standard against which actions can be assessed. This will shift us from a management mindset to a leadership-driven culture that embraces values.
By coming together and creating a focal point we’ll use to align everyone within the organization, this will ensure we’re working in harmony. This is something I’d renew my engagement in Mercury Mosaics with a completely fresh mindset. If I’m going to be more hands off on the creative side of the business, this would be key to keeping me on the ship. As I mature in my 40’s, it’s learning to think more of others, to care about others and to have confidence that I don’t have to be fixated on “what I thought all of this would look like”. The truth is, I’d rather be working on something with a team than working alone or with just a couple of people. I’d rather make something together working in harmony. To me, this is dignity and knowing that I fought it through and didn’t give up when everything I used to use to get us to where we are would break or blow up to smithereens. Now I truly have dignity that we showed up, we grew up and gosh darn it, maybe there will be a campfire to sing around after all, mom.
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