Within the 1000’s of mission statements that I have read over the years, I found a common thread in the structure of the majority: buzzwords and white noise. Unfortunately for them and perhaps fortunately for you, too many companies utilize a mix of meaningless hype words to get their point across. When reviewing your mission statement, ask yourself, does it distinguish you in any way from your competition, or could they be using the exact same statement? If the answer is yes, then you may want to take another stab at it.
My approach to reading/constructing a mission statement is simple: does this inspire me? Guy Kawasaki made the statement:
I give up trying to get people to create short, different, and meaningful mission statements, so go ahead and spend the $25,000 for the offsite, facilitator, and consultants to create one. However, you should also create a mantra for your organization. A mantra is three or four words long. Tops. Its purpose is to help employees truly understand why the organization exists.
For the most part I agree with him, however I feel that the mission statement is inherently valuable and can be constructed to inspire as the mantra does. Anyone can check the Wikipedia definition of a mission statement to see what to cook up, I’m here to tell you the flavors to add:
- Who, what why: We are a Fortune 500 Company… blah blah blah. Sorry to break it to you, but nobody cares. GIVE people a reason to care, not a company profile. Baring your heart and soul for people to see is the only way to truly connect. Remember the who, what, and why of WHAT MOTIVATED YOU to take that first step in creating a company.
- Concise but informative: It’s 2015, attention spans are short and pulled in every which direction. Three words to help with this: EDIT, EDIT, EDIT. In my experience cutting down the verbiage and editing will always yield a better result.
- Excitement!: Make your statement something you can be excited about! If you were at a party and you introduced your company as a friend, would they be the life of the party or sitting alone in the corner?
- CREATIVE: Bottom line, each and every company is founded in some form of creativity. Even the stock accounting firm was started by a person with a vision. Bring that vision to life in the eyes of your audience.
- Honesty: Remember to stay true to yourself and your ideals. Any fabrications will soon be brought to light.
In the end, you need to stand apart from your competition. You may provide the best product/services around, but your target audience needs to stay and look around for a bit before they take that leap: give them a reason to.