There are times in the life of a business when the founder, owner or executive team might consider creating or updating their Mission Statement. But what’s it all about? And how do you create one?
What is a Mission Statement?
There are 436,000,000,000 results in Google for “definition of mission statement” however this one from Wikipedia is helpful:
It’s about direction and action
A Mission Statement is a statement of intent of what the organisation will do. It is action oriented. It is not a Vision Statement, as Vision Statements are more focused on strategic positioning and an emotional depiction of where the organisation will be at some time in the future.
The problems with Mission Statements
The development of a Mission Statement is a creative process, however some of the common problems with Mission Statements is that their creators get carried away with lofty ideas and fancy wording that makes the statement hard to understand, too fluffy to be practical, or too unrealistic (based on wishful thinking). In fact, it’s been estimated that only about 10% of Mission Statements say something meaningful.
Because Mission Statements are about the actions that will be taken it’s important to make sure your Mission Statement is specific enough to be understood by your team (and other stakeholders) so they can easily see how their activities contribute to the bigger goals of the organisation.
Things to avoid when creating your Mission Statement
- Being verbose (using too many words)
- Using buzz words or ambiguous or vague words that are open to interpretation
- Including examples to demonstrate a point
- Not considering your company values
- Trying to appeal to everyone
- Not getting broad input and feedback
Why do you need a Mission Statement?
Well, in reality you can probably get by without having a Mission Statement. Many companies exist without one. But it’s like other aspects of running a successful business, it may not be compulsory but having one will make life easier, as well as making your company far more focused.
The benefits of a properly constructed and meaningful Mission Statement include:
- Providing a purpose for why your team needs to do what they do
- Enabling stakeholders to understand why choices are being made
- Creating guidelines for many management decisions
- Helping with the development of operational plans (who will do what, when and why)
- Ensuring everyone on your team knows where they are headed as a team/organisation
How to create an effective Mission Statement
When thinking about creating a Mission Statement it’s useful to break down the Mission Statement into a few different components, which are combined to create the final statement. This way you can devote your efforts to answering specific questions rather than wasting time contemplating potential future options, making assumptions, or trying to guesstimate what others think should be included.
Simple and practical
To keep things as simple as possible, and also be very practical, we suggest you focus your attention on answering three questions to create the foundation for your Mission Statement. Those three questions are:
- What do we want to be, or to be known for?
- Who do we want to do that for?
- How will we do it?
Whilst these questions seem quite simple and direct, it’s often the case that deciding on the answers can be confusing. These questions can stimulate deeper thought about what’s really important and you might need more detailed discussions to evaluate options that arise.
It certainly helps to have spent some time considering the Vision for the organisation, as well as defining core values, as these help create the ‘flavour’ of what the organisation will be doing and will influence the answers to some degree.
Get the free Mission Statement worksheet
Download a free copy of this worksheet to capture your answers to the Mission Statement planning questions. It’s ideal to share with your team.
Developing a Mission Statement can be a tricky project to undertake. It may be difficult for founders or business owners who are so close to the organisation that they have an embedded emotional connection, existing cognitive biases, and who maybe “can’t see the forest for the trees”. That’s why having an external facilitator to assist you through this process can be extremely beneficial.
Importantly, once you have the Mission Statement ready for public viewing be sure to educate your whole team on what it means and ensure it is visible within the workplace so it can be readily used as the guiding framework it was created to be.