“When you discover your mission, you will feel its demand. It will fill you with enthusiasm and a burning desire to get to work on it.”
– W. Clement Stone, Entrepreneur & Author
Does your company have a mission statement? Do you know what it is? Do others?
Let’s be honest, most mission statements simply serve as a wall decoration in the front waiting area of an office, creating cynicism in the hearts and minds of team members who have to walk past them on a daily basis.
The leadership teams that truly focus on bringing to life their mission statement in all that they do typically infuse the organization with a level of passion and enthusiasm that taps into the true potential of people and teams. As a strategic leader, if you get the mission and value statements right, and you really live them and use them as a guidepost for decision-making, it will be one of the highest returns on an investment you can make.
WHAT IS A MISSION STATEMENT?
A Mission Statement declares the purpose of the organization, department, team, or individual. A mission statement is aspiration, and inspiration and serves as a guidepost for an organization’s decisions and alignment.
Here are some strong examples of mission statements:
• Google’s mission is to organize the world‘s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
• Kiva’s mission is to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty.
• Disney’s mission is to create happiness by providing the finest in entertainment for people of all ages, everywhere.
Some of the questions, a mission statement can answer include:
• What is the purpose of the organization?
• Who does the organization serve in its purpose?
• How does the organization fulfill its purpose?
WHY IS A MISSION STATEMENT IMPORTANT?
I always find it astounding how many organizations don’t have a mission statement and how often organizations mistakenly make their mission about the pursuit of profit and growth, which should always be the byproduct of striving to fulfill an organization’s mission, but not the mission itself. Optimizing an organization for the pure benefit of profit often creates perverse incentives, and leads to short-term decision-making, which can ultimately put the future of an organization at risk. A good mission is focused on more noble pursuits with the power to tap into people’s passion and desire to give above and beyond.
HOW DO YOU CREATE A STRONG MISSION STATEMENT?
Whether you are building a mission statement for your organization, department, team, or yourself, here are top best practices when creating a mission statement:
It’s All About Customer Purpose
Organizations exist to serve their customers, whether their customers are consumers, other organizations, or people in poverty. Mission statements that don’t focus on creating benefits for customers or the world should be immediately tossed in the trash.
Keep It Concise
If you want a mission statement to be impactful, it needs to be known and used by people in the organization. So, keep it concise. If 80% of the people in an organization don’t know the mission statement by heart, then it probably isn’t very good or useful.
Make Sure It Feels Right
Mission statements should inspire and set the standard of what your organization does. Make sure the mission statement feels right, in a way that people ooh and aah, say “we nailed it,” and are willing to give their all in pursuit of the mission.
Keep It Timeless
A vision statement is a vehicle for concrete goals and time frames. Your mission statement should be formulated in a way that 10, 20, and hopefully 50 years from now, the mission still holds true.
Use Your Mission
Organizations that constantly use their mission statement as a guidepost in planning, creating and filtering ideas, and making decisions, are “mission-focused organizations”, and are often, the best organizations to work for.