Why is it we spend ridiculous amounts of time trying to create a mission statement that in the end winds up not very different from the competitor down the street?
I guess it would make sense if this investment of time actually made a difference. However, if you ask most employees what their mission statement is, I suspect only one percent of the organization could recite the mission statement accurately – and I hope one of those would be the marketing director!
Maybe what’s most important is that employees generally understand the mission of their organization. Would that be good enough?
Does Your Team Know Why Your Organization Exists?
When we don’t understand the reason our organizations exist, we create our own explanations. In the absence of information, people make it up. Multiple perspectives and conclusions yield many people going in many different directions. This inevitably creates ongoing tension and confusion among employees. Ever wonder why departments or areas become territorial or competitive with one another? Certainly, there are numerous inputs that result in poor organizational outcomes, but I say, it starts with the mission statement. If your team doesn’t have a clear mission that everyone can rally around, it inevitably breeds chaos. People do what’s right for them or their department rather than what’s right for the organization.
Can You Tweet Your Mission Statement?
I love all the KISS books that have been written over the years. If you are unfamiliar with the slang it refers to “keep it simple stupid.” So what if you simplified your mission statement? Made it so concise and to the point that it could be tweeted. Wouldn’t it be easier for employees to remember a statement that’s a maximum of 140 characters than the usual mission statement that resembles War and Peace?
I once worked for an organization that had a one-sentence mission statement, but sadly I never could remember the full sentence . . . and I was the chief operating officer! What I did remember was a phrase we used all the time, “embrace living.” That’s what resonated throughout our organization. It’s what rallied us. It was the mission statement that we lived, not the one that hung on the wall.
The national Alzheimer’s Association has figured out how to be succinct with its vision statement: “A world without Alzheimer’s.” They also have a one-sentence mission statement, which is great, but wouldn’t it be simpler if their mission statement was their vision statement?
What You Do and Why You Do It
I’m well aware that a mission statement is supposed to convey what you do, who you do it for, and how you do it. But enough with what is supposed to be!
Let’s get practical. New times require new perspectives.
If you want an effective organization, start with an effective mission statement – something that is easy to remember, easy to understand and most importantly, easy to rally around. Hence, a “tweetable” mission statement – Yes!
How about sharing your current mission statement in the comment area below? Would you dare?
This article was written staff member Veronica Barber.