Creating Impactful Mission Statements
Successful organizations begin by establishing their mission, which is the core reason for their existence—the product or service they provide, who they provide it to, and the benefits of that product or service. A lack of an established mission means that not only are staff and management unsure of their purpose, but customers and vendors are also left in the dark, uncertain of what to expect.
An organization’s mission ideally defines what it does best every day and why, and reflects the customer’s needs as well. Having a mission is the foundation upon which a high-performing organization’s dreams and potential become reality. Essentially, it affirms the reason(s) why an organization exists.
Under the guidance of a project facilitator, a team of senior management begins by developing a framework of what they believe the mission should be. The facilitator shares and explains this mission framework to each supervisory layer, soliciting input on each occasion, and ultimately shares it with the employees who then sit down with a good human resources representative in a roundtable session to discuss it and generate further input. The facilitator may need to go back and forth a few times before a final product is derived. Once the majority of employees and management agree to the refined mission, all employees need to agree to respect and support it.
A primary benefit to creating or revisiting a mission is that it opens up communication within and throughout an organization. Every successful organization has a clearly established mission, one that has been developed with input from all employees collectively, not simply flowing down from the top. By engaging employees in establishing their organization’s mission, they become fully invested in it. The mission must be ingrained within the organization’s culture. Not only are employees and customers made familiar with the organization’s mission; candidates are also exposed to the mission of high-performing organizations during the interview process, before they’re offered a position.
Some tips to remember when writing a mission statement: 1) keep it short and easy to remember; 2) specify who your target customer is and describe the advantages you offer; and 3) define your product clearly and how it differs from the competition.
You may be wondering how you can say all that and still keep your mission statement short and memorable. Here are two strong examples from high-performing organizations with effective mission statements.
Google: We organize the world‘s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Their marketplace? The world. Their product and its advantages? Organizing the world’s information to make it easily accessible and useful. They do this and they do it exceedingly well.
Starbucks: We inspire and nurture the human spirit — one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time. Their marketplace? Also, essentially the world, yet they stress the individual: one person, one neighborhood at a time to maintain a personal feel. We are already very familiar with their product and social coffeehouse environment, aren’t we?
In addition to a mission statement, all high-performing organizations possess a clearly defined vision. Organizations with an established vision have a workplace of direction, purpose, and achievement. These organizations envision where they want to be and do the appropriate things to get there. Every employee is given a copy of this road map.
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