Revisiting your Mission Statement

As an HR Consultant for the last 13 years, I’ve been exposed to a diverse group of organizations, across many different industries and in those years I’ve seen A LOT of mission statements.  They usually get framed and posted on the wall somewhere in Reception.  What is interesting is that very few of those mission statements were memorable to me – it was rare to see a statement that truly defined, in a clear and concise way, the company’s purpose and end-state goal.  Often the statements I read sounded all too similar, i.e.  “To be the best in the industry,” “To continually provide exceptional customer service to our valued customers,” and “To be flexible to our clients ever changing needs.”  It seems to me these declarations were more of a marketing statement than a mission statement.

I recently came across a fantastic article entitled “How to Write A Mission Statement that isn’t Dumb” that contains wonderful insights on writing a Mission Statement that has true value.  What I learned from this article, is the most effective mission statements are:

  1. simple
  2. quantify the organization’s goal
  3. completely void of meaningless statements like “To strive towards excellence”

If you develop a mission statement that EVERY employee can remember and understand, they could use it as a guiding tool when making every day decisions in their job.

You may have heard this famous story about President Kennedy that exemplifies my point. During a visit to the NASA space center in 1962, President Kennedy noticed a janitor carrying a broom.  He interrupted his tour, walked over to the man and said, “Hi, I’m Jack Kennedy. What are you doing?”

The janitor responded, “I’m helping put a man on the moon, Mr. President.”

How’s that for simple, goal-oriented and completely void of meaningless statements?

Now the bigger question – have you read your mission statement lately?

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