Whats Your Mission
What’s Your Mission?
Much has been written about mission and vision statements. Some organizations can’t stand them, others swear by them. Some organizations are successful without them while others believe they are in part the reason for their success. Strategy is another aspect of organizational life that has received a fair amount of both good and bad attention. Used incorrectly, all (mission, vision and strategy) simply become words without meaning or statements of the obvious. Used correctly, a good mission statement, a well-conceived vision and the strategies put in place to make it all come alive, can make the difference between an organization that merely does well and one that is truly great. It is not my purpose to debate words or concepts, but rather to demonstrate how mission, vision and strategy can play a key role in the overall effectiveness of developing a solid leadership development coaching process.
A well-written mission statement can; promote unity, provide clarity and focus, move the organization from ideas to action, align and allocate scarce resources, and help define and establish the culture of the organization. Because of these factors, the mission statement can be a powerful force in clearly defining the organizations purpose for existence. The organizational mission statement should state why the entity was formed or what specific mission it performs. This can be discovered by answering the following types of questions. Why are we in business? Why (in very specific terms) do we exist? What do we provide and why? What primary function do we fulfill and why? Why does this work matter? What is most important about what we do?
A good mission statement is the credo, the beliefs, of the organizations leaders. A mission statement defines why it all matters to all stakeholders within the organization. A good mission statement is most often used to define internal motivation and align and engage all members of the organization. When properly developed the mission statement will serve two purposes. It will “influence” the behavior and motivate all stakeholders, and help “guide decisions” so they are consistent and focused on what is really important. The mission statement should be viewed as the guiding principle for used by the organization to communicate to its employees, customers, vendors, investors and your industry what your goals are and where you’re headed.
A useful mission statement is normally very brief, specific, memorable, and written in plain language. It is also understood, and actionable by everyone who needs to use it for decision-making purposes. A mission statement should require little or no explanation and its length is less important than its compelling, passionate and energizing power. Two now famous short mission statements Nike’s “Crush Reebok” and Pepsi’s “Beat Coke” serve as good examples of very short mission statements. Also consider others that are just a bit longer. Ford Motor Company used “Quality Is Job One.” Mary Kay Cosmetics states “To give unlimited opportunity to women.” Walt Disney’s mission statement simply but powerfully states “To make people happy.” The mission statement of the International Red Cross is “To serve the most vulnerable.”
You don’t have to keep a mission statement as short as the above. A simple, compelling and energizing mission statement can also stretch to a short paragraph. Consider the Courtyard by Marriott mission statement. “To provide economy and quality minded travelers with a premier, moderate priced lodging facility, which is consistently perceived as clean, comfortable, well-maintained, and attractive, staffed by friendly, attentive and efficient people.” This mission statement sends a powerful message to both the staff and the customer.
Just as organizations create their mission statement, consider developing your own personal mission statement. As a leadership development coach I have formulated my personal mission statement “Coaching in the present…to shape your future.” This statement answers for me the questions, what primary function do I provide? And why do I provide this service?
In the context of what you have just read about developing a mission statement, in thirty words or less (preferably ten or less) – take some time and write your new or revised personal or organizational mission statement.
Listed below are some criteria you can use while developing your personal or organizational mission statement.
• Keep it short and sharply focused
• Make it clear and easily understood
• Define why you or your organization exist
• Define why your organization or you do what you do
• Provide you or your organization with the direction for doing things that have impact
• Ensure it matches your personal or the organizations competence
• Make sure it inspires you or your organization’s commitment
• Say specifically what, in the end, you or your organization want to be remembered for
To have the most impact your mission statement should "fit on a T-shirt," yet a mission statement is not simply a slogan. It is your precise statement of purpose. Chose your words for their meaning rather than there uniqueness. Be clear rather than clever. The best mission statements are written plainly for all to understand.
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Roger M. Ingbretsen, Author, Speaker, Leadership Coach, Organizational and career developer For more information, visit www.ingbretsen.com or call 509 999 7008.