Can We Talk About Your Mission
When you think about a company mission statement what springs to mind? A bunch of buzzwords that create a nondescript marketing pitch that no one really understands or pays much attention to right? If people do pay attention, it's only to laugh at them. Sometimes companies incorrectly toss in a bit about it's long term future as well just for good measure, don't believe me how about this great example?
"Dunder Mifflin Incorporated provides its customers quality office and information technology products, furniture, printing values and the expertise required for making informed buying decisions. We provide our products and services with a dedication to the highest degree of integrity and quality of customer satisfaction, developing long-term professional relationships with employees that develop pride, creating a stable working environment and company spirit."by Author
For those that don't know Dunder Mifflin only exists on TV, it's the company at the centre of the spoof documentary show "The Office" but the frightening thing is many would look at this statement and think.. well actually it's Ok or it's better than our company mission statement or worse..well at least they have one!
So what makes a good Mission?
Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone beforeSTAR TREK Mission
As we have stressed before when talking about Purpose & Core Values, your mission is not a marketing tool, although you should certainly be able to talk about your mission, purpose & values with clients & potential clients that's not their main use. Their main use is to perfectly align everyone to the direction and goals of your organisation. It should ideally be able to inspire those who read it to think how lucky they are to be part of that mission.
What about the one opposite? clear? inspired? it's not bad eh? If you were a fan of the show you know the the Mission was for 5 years. Your company mission then should be similar in terms of being time bounded, at some point you should achieve the mission then, of course, you need a new one. Oh just a point, the mission you choose shouldn't be simple, obviously, small potatoes it should be out there, it should be huge it should be something people read and thing how the heck will we do that!? and then quickly think.. man where do I sign up to be part of that?
Your mission statement should state in simple terms
- What you do,
- Who you do it for (your customers / employees / country / world etc),
- How you do it
- What makes you different from anyone else.
For Now, Not tomorrow
Your mission statement is for now, it is to inspire the people in your organisation now, not for where you wish you were or want to be in 10 years, or 50 years, this is what you are now, not what you hope to be (that's vision & we'll talk about that next).
Your competitor should not be able to lift your mission and use it as theirs, so when you think you have figured it out run it through the little test where you read it while thinking of your competitor! It needs to be uniquely you.
The very best missions tell a story and creating it with a story of your business and your people in mind is a great place to start, people are attracted to and remember great stories. People want to be part of the story, of your story.
A word of warning only use the words you actually need (and understand!) what I mean here is that you need to look at it multiple times and take out all the buzzwords all the spurious words that only add padding or fluff to what you are trying to say. Strip it back to just the real, meaningful words that will create an impact on your people.
When you have your Mission the next step is to make sure everyone knows it, everyone understands it and everyone is on board with it. The reality is however that there may well be some people who are not on board with it and never will be on board with it. This is the hard yet critical bit of having a real mission, for those who are not on board don't get to go on the journey, they are left behind, working for someone else. If you don't cut them loose then they become the anchor holding your organisation back
How do you know it's integrated to the organisation?
So how do you know that the mission is clear, that people get it, they are on board, well I like to use a story about John F Kennedy and a visit to NASA in 1961, it's shown here.
Now think about it, ask yourself this, when you ask anyone on your business that question, what do you do here?.. will you get an answer like this? No? then you still have work to do, so get out there and talk about the mission and why it's critical to your organisation.
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