A mission statement is simply an encapsulation of the mission of a particular organization – its purpose, its goals and how to achieve them. A mission statement may also be considered a blueprint for success, streamlining the efforts of an organization’s executives as all decide the direction the organization must head, delineating the perceived best paths towards objective fulfillment.
It is not an easy exercise to target, define and create a mission statement – at least one that motivates employees, has bold and aspirational qualities, outlines concrete strategies, and galvanizes interest in those outside the organization.As with any important aspect of business, a mission statement must be carefully weighed, reviewed and altered when necessary. It will serve as a foundation for the building blocks of the organization, representing the choices that the organization must make to satisfy its
objectives and to achieve a strong foothold in a competitive environment.
When developing a mission statement, one needs to consider the following key elements:
– Seek input from as many sources as possible. Those highest in the organization are not the only individuals who possess ideas. By gaining feedback from a myriad of viewpoints, an effective mission statement may become more crystalline.
– The accountability of any mission statement rests with the person or people who create the mission statement. Consequently, the leadership of the organization must assume the responsibility for creating the mission statement since they are accountable for the projected mission itself.
While others’ may contribute ideas, the leaders of the organization are the ones who must target, mold and define the mission statement as the buck stops with them.
– The language of a mission statement should not be too general or amorphous. Resume experts caution prospective employees from using general jargon such as “customer-oriented” or “thrive under pressure.” They assert that employees must refrain from such inane, trite descriptions and replace them with bold examples. Similarly, mission statements must avoid platitudes, replacing them with more descriptive language, using many proactive verbs.
– The mission statement should inspire those within the organization and strike a responsive chord with those outside the organization. The mission statement is similar in scope to a politician’s buzz phrase. Are you reading my lips? An organization must ensure the ongoing support and commitment from all. The mission statement can jumpstart such commitment.
– A complete mission statement should include the purpose of the organization and the needs it aspires to fulfill, how to address those needs, and the values that the organization embodies. Specific business
strategies need not be delineated here. However, the reader of a mission statement should have some understanding of how the organization plans to achieve its aims.
– The mission statement must balance realistic goals (the possible) with lofty aspirations (what seemingly may even be impossible to achieve). An organization must always strive to grow and advance and reach to become preeminent in its field, regardless of all challenges, including the competition.
– The mission statement should be concise and not a dissertation. It is best if the reader can remember the mission statement, at least most of statement, well after it has been viewed.
Keeping the aforementioned principles in mind, perhaps one of the best mission statements originates from the original owners of Ben and Jerry’s, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield. Listed right on the home page (benjerry.com), are various mission statements. The Product Mission is as follows:
“To make, distribute & sell the finest quality all natural ice cream & euphoric concoctions with a continued commitment to incorporating wholesome, natural ingredients and promoting business practices that respect the Earth and the Environment.”
It is short and sweet (no pun intended) and may easily be recalled. It lists the purpose of the business (make, distribute and sell ice cream) , one way it will accomplish goals (using wholesome, natural ingredients) and the values that the company ascribes to (respect for earth and environment). It is lofty in its message yet presents a possible, realistic outcome.
The founders of Ben & Jerry’s must understand the importance of the mission statement because the homepage of their site highlights all of the following: Product Mission, Economic Mission and Social Mission. According to Ben and Jerry, the three-tier mission are all important in their own scope yet interdependent, ensuring that the complete mission of the company is attained. The homepage of the site also depicts the company’s progressive values. Ben and Jerry want you to know that their
business entails a lot more than just selling ice cream.
Indeed, the mission statement writer/creator must let others know about the business’ grandest plans and aspirations. A mission statement is like a “wish list” – but one that can be attained. It comprises all the elements: who we are, what we do, how we do it, and the influence our efforts will have on the world around us.
Our company’s mission statement follows: “We strive to be the ‘Walmart of electronic payment processing,’ offering the most affordable solutions to business owners who need credit card and check payment processing capability. Our programs will be tailored to meet the needs of each
individual client and all associated rates and fees will be openly disclosed.
Merchant account information and enlightenment will consistently be provided as the merchant must not only know the particulars of our program but must be aware of the ins and outs of the payment processing field itself. Through our low-cost services and by facilitating client education, we will continue to grow our client base and renew others’ faith in the merchant account field, not known for its integrity.
Well, this mission statement may not be perfect but is perfect for us. And any merchant statement must first please those who create it. However, merchant statements need not be set in stone but flexible and malleable. As a given company evolves, the merchant statement should also evolve. Mission statements are always a work in progress.