Why Most Mission Statements Don't Work

Over the years, I've had the privilege of working with a wide range of businesses, from small companies to large corporations.

And many of these organisations had a ‘Mission Statement’.

What is a mission statement?

A mission statement is a summary of the most important aims and values of a company or organisation. It’s the what, why and how that aligns leadership, staff, suppliers and customers.

It’s a fundamental element of a successful business and the process of building one.

However, it's tragic to observe that over 95% of the mission statements I have  encountered miss the mark entirely!

What a great mission statement should achieve.

A well-crafted mission statement is an invaluable asset that can greatly contribute to a company's success.

I’ve seen the transformative power of a genuine and impactful mission statement in driving a company to new heights.

A great mission statement can

  • Be a source of inspiration.
  • Keep the team focused and attentive.
  • Increase productivity and engagement.

Unfortunately, many companies end up with nothing more than a plaque on the wall, as their mission statements lack authenticity and are just a tick the box exercise.

The problems with mission statements

People often have an awareness of the importance of having a mission statement, especially if they are involved in business.

Deep down, they recognise the significance of understanding their mission and creating a mission statement. However, they may also sense that they are not aligned with their true mission or that something is amiss.

There's a recognition that they might be missing out on the full potential of what a genuine mission statement can offer.

They desire a mission statement that authentically reflects who they are and allows them to harness all the advantages that come with having a well-defined mission.

How can you craft a mission statement that truly delivers on its promise?

Mission statements should not serve as just window dressing or empty slogans.

They should be authentic, inspirational, and deeply reflective of the heart and soul of the company. A true mission statement can serve as a guiding light, providing motivation and creative energy to overcome challenges and achieve success.

How can you ensure that your mission statement is an active driving force within your company, helping it to thrive and achieve all the outcomes associated with a well-crafted mission statement?

Discovering your true mission statement requires introspection and digging deep into the essence of your company's purpose.

Whether you're a single individual or part of a larger group, this process is essential for building a truly successful company. It's worth noting that this journey of soul-searching and exploration is not a mere mental exercise; it's an inward journey to uncover why you and your team get up every day.

The primary role of a mission statement should be to invoke inspiration.

Here are a few key insights about how to write a mission statement that inspires business success.

1. Authenticity is paramount:

Mission statements must genuinely reflect the true desired results and values of the company. They should not be about making the company look good to those outside the company, Instead, they are meant to inspire the team and the leaders themselves. Take time to discover what’s important to the organisation.

Think about what the organisation does - what I call “the real what”. Then look at how this is done - what I call “your unique way of doing things”. Lastly, consider why this is important - how does this set you apart from others?

2. Define your purpose:

Inspiration is a potent driver of creativity. A well-designed mission statement can keep a company motivated during tough times and inspire creative thinking.

Having a clear purpose can drive the organisation to think outside the box and come up with novel solutions that can benefit the business.

Mission statement should be short, bold and memorable to achieve this. It should be more than just a poster on the wall. How can your mission statement be incorporated into the company at every level?

3. Get everyone involved:

While the top-level leadership usually creates the mission statement, it should be shared and embraced throughout the organisation to ensure alignment. Everyone should be inspired by the mission statement - everyone should win as a result of it.

Mission statements - the gold within your organisation

I once visited a company that had recently invested a considerable amount in crafting a mission statement during a retreat. When I read it, I saw that it  was just a feel good statement, and when I asked the CEO if that statement truly reflected what inspired him and the leadership team to get out of bed each morning, the answer was no. This simple question led us to finding the heart of the true mission.

While this process may take some effort, it's a heart and soul exercise that yields invaluable results. It is, in essence, discovering gold within your organisation.

A genuine mission statement is not just a business tool; it's the essence of your company's purpose. It provides joy, inspiration, and the driving force to propel your business to its greatest possible success. Without it, a business can lack direction, fulfilment, and the motivation to reach its full potential.

Put in the effort, seek it out, and discover your mission statement.

It has the potential to elevate your company's success to an entirely new level. It's well worth the journey to understand why some mission statements fail. Explore existing ones, learn from their shortcomings, and then commit to the work required to craft your own.

Embrace all the advantages that a genuine mission statement can offer your business.

Here a couple of mission statements  to get you reflecting:

Expand Consulting is dedicated to being a powerful vehicle of transformation.  We accomplish this through being an example, and through providing life-changing education and facilitation that helps individuals and groups to move from where they are to where they really want to be

We at Maximo are dedicated to being industry leaders, we accomplish this by delivering innovative products and service that blow our customers and our staff away

If you need guidance, our Expand Community offers resources and courses focused on finding clarity and purpose in your professional life.

For a personalised approach, consider a one-on-one session where we can tailor our guidance to your specific career goals and aspirations.

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