Expert Advice on Mission Statements
Want expert advice on mission statements? Here's what Guy Kawasaki and others experts think about mission statements.
You think you have the mission statement "thing" down pat.
Still, it would be nice to know for sure whether your company's mission statement is any good.
You could spend thousands of dollars on a consultant . . . Or you could listen to what the experts have to say about creating mission statements that make an impact.
If the experts agree on anything it's that mission statements need to be brief.
Mission statements that drag on for paragraphs may leave you with a sense of accomplishment, but in terms of real world effectiveness they never hit the mark.
Guy Kawasaki feels so strongly about the need to be brief that he suggests substituting a mission statement with a mantra. According to Kawasaki, "A mantra is three or four words long. Tops. Its purpose is to help employees truly understand why the organization exists."
The shorter your mission statement - or mantra - is, the easier it will be for employees and other key individuals to quickly condense the organization's activities and purposes down to a few critical points.
And when it's all said and done, isn't that what you are trying to achieve with your mission statement, anyway?
If you're looking for information about the dos and don'ts of mission statements, take some time to explore what other companies have come up with.
Many of the mission statements you encounter will be solid examples of everything a mission statement should be.
However, you'll probably also run into some mission statements that don't have any direct correlation to the activities of the companies they represent.
That's a problem because one of the primary characteristics of effective mission statements is focus. Kawasaki illustrates this point through Wendy's mission statement: "To deliver superior quality products and services for our customers and communities through leadership, innovation, and partnerships."
Although Wendy's mission statement sounds impressive, Kawasaki says, "Don't get me wrong. I love Wendy's, but I've never thought I was participating in 'leadership, innovation, and partnerships' when I ordered a hamburger there."
His point is to keep it simple. Instead of trying to impress people with your mission statement, just focus on what you do best.
In addition to brevity and focus, business experts agree on the fact that mission statements need to be easily understood by industry insiders and outsiders alike. In fact, your mission statement's overall effectiveness may hinge on its ability to be understood by a broad range of readers. Here's how Kawasaki puts it:
The ultimate test for a mantra (or mission statement) is if your telephone operators (Trixie and Biff) can tell you what it is. If they can, then you're onto something meaningful and memorable. If they can't, then, well, it sucks.
The best litmus test for your company's mission statement is to try it out on a diverse cross-section of people and ask them to repeat it back to you in their own words.
If "Trixie", "Biff", and everyone else is onboard with the message, then you have achieved the level of clarity your mission statement demands.
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