Have you ever read a company’s mission statement and immediately dismissed it as corporate claptrap? I know I have. In my experience, mission statements are either totally boring and generic or ridiculously grandiose and self-congratulatory. In fact, they’re usually so meaningless that most people couldn’t even tell you the mission of their own company.
But just because they’re often awful, doesn’t mean we should ditch mission statements altogether. A strong mission statement is a fantastic opportunity to show people (both inside and outside the business) what purpose the company serves. We just need to get better at writing mission statements – which is where this article comes in.
Remember, it’s all about purpose
I’ve written elsewhere about the difference between mission and vision statements, so I won’t spend a lot of time repeating the definition. But, in a nutshell, your mission statement should set out the company’s purpose, or why the business exists. In fact, “purpose statement” is a much better name for it.
When mission statements go bad
Before we get to the good bit, let’s start with examples of how mission statements can go horribly wrong.
Firstly, a mission statement should be focused on the here and now, not stating where you want to be in the future (save that for your vision statement). Confusing mission with vision is one of the most common mistakes companies make in their mission statement. Just look at these examples:
Another common mistake is writing a mission statement that is so boringly bland and corporate that it doesn’t say anything meaningful about what the company does. Take these mission statements, for example:
If you can keep your purpose in mind and avoid tired clichés, you’ll be well on your way to writing a meaningful mission statement.
How to get it right
I’ve found that a good way to start the process of writing a mission statement is to ask yourself these key questions:
You can then begin to draft your mission statement, based on the answers to those questions. My top tips for writing an amazing mission statement are:
Cracking examples of mission statements
Let’s finish up with some brilliant examples that put these tips into practice:
Where to go from here
I hope this article has inspired you to rethink your company mission statement. If you would like to know more about mission statements, vision statements and strategy, check out my articles on:
What is a Strategy Map?
What is a Balanced Scorecard? A Quick Overview
The 7 Key Benefits of Using a Balanced Scorecard
7 Common Balanced Scorecard Mistakes Every Company Should avoid
Driving Success And Better Decisions Through Smart Business Experiments
Balanced Scorecard: A Quick Introduction To The Four Perspectives
Bernard Marr is a bestselling author, keynote speaker, and advisor to companies and governments. He has worked with and advised many of the world's best-known organisations. LinkedIn has recently ranked Bernard as one of the top 10 Business Influencers in the world (in fact, No 5 - just behind Bill Gates and Richard Branson). He writes on the topics of intelligent business performance for various publications including Forbes, HuffPost, and LinkedIn Pulse. His blogs and SlideShare presentation have millions of readers.