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Mission Statement Pros & Cons

The last company I was at spent a great deal of time crafting a mission statement. In the end, it was equal parts failed marketing, management complimenting itself and a morale-decreasing joke.

Now, my current employer is seriously considering creating one.

Does anyone take mission statements seriously? Any tips for writing one to avoid creating a mission statement joke? Is it better just to skip the whole thing? Or, is there some real benefit from writing a mission statement? Does your company have one - why or why not?

Thank you in advance.

Answers

EMERSON GALFO
Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |

I believe mission statements are IMPORTANT. It is the company's underlying reason for being. A mission statement keeps you grounded (your core values) and what you can go back to when the company is "lost" or what you can base your decisions on when evaluating alternatives. It gives the company "soul" and "purpose" I can equate it to a personal "soul searching".

When I talk with owners, I always tell them to define why he/she built the company and how he/she wants the company to affect all the stakeholders ... i.e. (1) customer (2) employees (3) owners (4) society/environment/etc.

I will posit that your last company did not really understand the purpose and essence of the mission statement and placed too many superficial aspects (as per your post... marketing, mgnt compliments) to it as the reason for the failure.

I did a cursory google search and came up with this list....it should help you envision your own http://www.missionstatements.com/fortune_500_mission_statements.html

David Smith
Title: Manager
Company: Private
(Manager, Private) |

Emerson, I think companies had an underlying reason for being and were still able to make decisions before mission statements became in vogue. Of course, business jargon has an undeniable appeal:

Chan Bryson
Title: Staff Accountant
Company: United Methodist Home for Children
(Staff Accountant, United Methodist Home for Children) |

When I read the original post, my mind instantly went to this song as well.

Topic Expert
Christie Jahn
Title: CFO
Company: Prime Investments & Development
(CFO, Prime Investments & Development) |

A mission, vision and set of core values are crucial to a successful company and culture. The problem as Anon has stated is when the leaders of the company do nothing with it after they have created it. When that happens it just becomes words on a wall/paper.

Leaders have to use the mission, vision and core values in communication, discussions, and meetings for it to stick. Our Mission is "We Go Beyond The Call" and any time we witness an associate going above and beyond for a customer we share it across the company. Our leaders speak it and our associates speak it. We train on it in the first week of all new hire training and they hear it in the field.

Everyone needs a purpose, something to work towards. A company's mission is supposed to be that purpose and the vision should be what it looks like when you get there. The Core Values are how you act and you can't waiver on them. It's about creating a culture that people care about and enjoy.

Randy Moore
Title: CFO
Company: SJB Bagel Makers of Boston
(CFO, SJB Bagel Makers of Boston) |

Who really cares? Mission statements are like listening to someone who likes to hear themselves talk. A typical statement is "We strive to be the best at ____"
No kidding. Have you ever seen one that read "we strive to be somewhat ok at what we do, maybe"? Worse is a mission statement that is several paragraphs long and at the end you still don't know what the mission is.
Mission statements? Bah, humbug.

EMERSON GALFO
Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |

Randy, is SJB still a dba of/for Finagle Bagel? If so, I just read this on Finagle's website (about us)...."Our Mission is to make the World's Best Bagels. We provide a clean, fun, and prosperous environment that honors our guests, employees, partners, and community." http://www.finagleabagel.com/about-us.aspx

Topic Expert
Scott MacDonald
Title: President/Owner
Company: AlphaMac Resources, Inc.
(President/Owner, AlphaMac Resources, Inc.) |

Have to agree with Randy on this one. Most of the Mission Statements are "big talk, little action". Another question to ask "Does the creation of a Mission Statement create any revenue or reduce expense?". 99% of the time the answer is NO. Why spend time on something that creates no financial impact? In most companies, time would be better spent in other productive areas.

Better to spend your time developing productivity Goals, Objectives, Measurable Success Criteria and Strategy, and make sure every employee in the company knows them and knows how their job fits in to the total picture.

Very few companies can truly lay out their true Goals, Objectives, Strategy and Measurable Success Criteria in a comprehensive and useful format.

Leave the Mission Statements to the PR and Sales people, right after you give them their agressive sales goals for the year. :)

EMERSON GALFO
Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |

"make sure every employee in the company knows them and knows how their job fits in to the total picture."

Scott, what is "the total picture"?

Len Green
Title: Performance Improvement Consultant and E..
Company: Haygarth Consulting LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Performance Improvement Consultant and ERP Strategist, Haygarth Consulting LLC) |

Before you start, I think it's worth googling "Netflix culture" to get a sanity check on this topic. There is a good slide deck out there. You don't have to mimic them, but some of the statements they make are a good reality check in my view.

I'd also suggest you look at Lisa Mcleod's view of organizations and whether they have a NSP-Noble Sales Purpose. I was in the audience at a recent keynote speech she gave and it was pretty good advice. See more at http://www.mcleodandmore.com/

Topic Expert
Chester Hurtado
Title: CFO
Company: Tradeworks
(CFO, Tradeworks) |

It is the responsibility of management to reinforce the mission and values of the company every day. However, as a company gets bigger and needs to adapt to the marketplace it may be helpful to provide the employees with a guide they can focus on. However, in my experience the mission statement gets diluted and is used mainly as a marketing tool.

If a company chooses to have a mission statement, it should be brief and clear. Otherwise, no one will remember it.

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