Your mission statement sucks… probably. I have seen hundreds of them, and 99% of them are pointless, self-engrandizing, delusional, ambiguous crap. They tend to serve little value outside of being a reflection of some C-level executive’s ego. This is unfortunate, because a great mission statement can go long way to codify an organization’s culture and leadership.
Anatomy of a Great Mission Statement
This is the Indiana BMV mission statement:
Our mission is to serve all Hoosiers by providing best-in-class driver and vehicle services in a timely and accurate manner while ensuring security and transparency.
Here’s why it’s awesome:
It clearly says what they do.
It identifies who they serve.
It defines the key factors by which they judge their success.
It doesn’t over-reach or pretend they are more important than they are.
If you have never tried writing a mission statement before, you might be thinking, “Yeah, this seems simple and straight-forward.” But somehow, thousands of businesses struggle to get even a basic mission statement defined that meets even one of these key ingredients.
The Gallery of Shame
Continuing Milton Hershey’s legacy of commitment to consumers, community and children, we provide high-quality HERSHEY’S products while conducting our business in a socially responsible and environmentally sustainable manner.
What to they sell? Is this a toy company? Wait… they sell chocolate?!? That makes sense, when I buy chocolate I always ask myself, “Is this socially responsible?”
From Avery Dennison, a packaging material company:
To help make every brand more inspiring, and the world more intelligent.
I always thought that packaging companies should take more responsibility for the intelligence and inspiration of the world.
Together, with our whole Ohana (Hawaiian for “family”) made up of our employees, customers, partners and communities, we are working to improve the state of the world.
Cultural appropriation and an eerie sense of megalomania lets everyone know that Salesforce thinks that database software is waaaaay more important than it is. I am sure we all think the “state of the world” can be improved with better managed sales teams.
How to Write a Great Mission Statement
The point of a great mission statement is to let those who work with you and for you what your focus is. If you stuff it full of your ego and grand delusions, then people just know you’re crazy. Here are a few key questions your mission statement should answer:
What do you do?
Who do you serve?
By what factors do you judge if you are doing what you do well?
That’s it. If you can clearly answer those questions, then people who work for you know where to focus, people who work with you know what to expect, and everyone knows when you are doing well or need improvement.