What is one thing that all companies have but nobody uses? That’s right, a mission statement. The reason why nobody uses them is because most of them are written very badly. Today, I am going to tackle the world’s mission statement problem.
First, let’s start with the definition of mission statement. No company is built solely to make money. There is always something greater than that. Your company exists because you address certain human needs. And by satisfying those needs you hope to improve the world around you. That perfect future, is your vision. No company can build that future alone. But your company plays a key role in shaping the perfect picture. And that role, is your mission.
Second, forget “what you want to be”. Instead, focus your energy on “what you can become.” Define your role broadly yet realistically. Defining broadly will give you an audacious goal. Defining realistically will make sure that you stay on the right track.
Third, do not even consider writing your financial goals. Worst mission statements talk about ROI’s and financial targets. Keep in mind that the primary audience of your mission statement is your employees, who want to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives. (More to come on this topic)
Fourth, avoid clichés. The Mission Statement Book looks at the mission statement of 301 American companies. Service (230 times), customer (211), quality (194), value (183) and employees (157) are the most commonly used terms. Try to explain your mission by using authentic, memorable and motivating words.
Fifth, make sure your CEO is involved. It is a task for the senior management, not marketing department.
And finally, hanging the statement on the wall is not enough. Run internal seminars and town halls to educate them. Make sure that your employees ask questions. That is a good indicator that they are willing to accept your mission statement.
Today’s actionable tip: (This one is from Mary J. Braide) People might have different understanding of a mission statement. Therefore, always write the description of the mission statement (Our role in building the perfect future) in front of your actual mission statement.
On my next post, I will share with you some of the mission statements that I like. In the mean time, why don’t you give me some examples of mission statements that you like?