I hate mission statements. I’ve yet to encounter an organisation that operates better because it’s got one. You know the kind of thing I mean, the vacuous phrase displayed in the lobby…
To be the World Leading Provider of Enterprise Centric Productivity Solutions through Innovation and an Empowered Workforce*
Is it any wonder that I’d like to do away with mission statements?
Now, I’m not against ‘articulating the vision’, nor ‘describing our mission’, nor ‘setting out our values’. I just hate it being done in a trite way, devoid of meaning.
Do it in the wrong way, and people in the organisation will pay scant regard to it.
When I was with a client recently, they wanted me to help them with their mission statement, as part of the business planning we were doing. They’d seen other mission statements in other lobbies, and thought they ought to have one too. I persuaded their management team to think about it in a different way.
Instead of Vision, we put into the business plan
Where we want to get to
Instead of Mission, we talked about
Why we’re trying to do this
And instead of a list of Values, we worked on
The principles that will guide us
Talking about these things in plain language helped create a business plan that was believable. It got straight past the “what is a vision?” discussions that have happened previously. The ideas could be discussed with people around the business much more easily and productively.
The text we produced together probably won’t look as neat on a poster in their lobby, but it is clear in the minds of their people. Which is where it needs to be.
In fact, I don’t think they’ll need to put anything up on the lobby wall: I achieved my mission.
* Yes, that’s taken from a real company.
If you disagree with me, and think your current mission statement is wonderful, feel free to add a comment with it included. There aren’t any prizes for the really bad ones, unfortunately.