While I recently questioned the relevance of vision statements, I don’t see mission statements going away or losing value in the near future. The mission statement tells people what we’re all about. They’re used on both a company level and an individual level to define our reason for being.
For example, here are a couple famous mission statements:
Google’s mission: to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
Coca-Cola says part of their mission is “to refresh the world.”
So I think mission statements continue to be important.
Because mission statements are all about the focus of the business, a key to developing a good mission statement is involvement. One of the biggest mistakes I see companies make is having a small group of people develop their mission statement. I’ve actually seen individuals send out mission statements for an entire group. What the…??? If you’re a team, then the team should create their mission statement. Otherwise, the mission statement doesn’t mean a thing. It only speaks for the individual.
I know one of the reasons it’s tempting to create a mission statement alone or in a small group…it takes less time. Because sometimes inviting everyone means you have to invite the devil’s advocates and the naysayers. And they will want to debate. Which takes time.
Deep down inside, you know they should be there. If you exclude them, then you run the risk of them undermining your efforts. They will go around telling everyone how they weren’t included. And, even if they are a PITA, you look worse because it appears cliquish.
I once was challenged with the task of putting together a strategic plan for a non-profit organization. In their 30 year existence, they never had one. I wanted to make the process as inclusive as possible but several people told me I was crazy to try to have 60 people work on a strategic plan. But we found a terrific partner to help lead us through the process.
Side note: Even if you do strategic planning for a living like me, when I need to be part of the process instead of facilitate, I hire a professional. Trying to run the meeting and be a participant is a recipe for disaster. You know that old saying about being your own lawyer…
Anyhoo, one activity that really helped us solidify our mission was a variation on the traditional SWOT analysis. You know SWOT – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. To keep our group focused on the positive – we used the process of appreciative inquiry to talk about:
- The activities we do now,
- The things we want to do in the future and
- The steps we would need to accomplish in order to achieve the roadmap we had created for ourselves.
It’s a great exercise that really works. Besides being a positive way to talk about the organization, this type of process allows for a tremendous level of participation.
As our companies are starting to think about next year and what we hope to accomplish, go back and revisit your mission. Are you comfortable with it? If not, think about those three questions above and how you can position yourself and your company for the future.
Image courtesy of Morio0