There is a common pattern in organizations when it comes to mission statements. The governing board will spend days – sometimes months – developing a mission statement, and then as soon as it is communicated, it is essentially lost in the day-to-day operations.
A mission statement, by definition, is the core of your organization – what you do and why you exist. It is the foundation of your business and the gauge of your operations. It should be simple and clear enough that every person in the organization knows it and abides by it.
Why is a mission statement so critical to an organization’s success?
1. It defines who you are.
2. It defines who you are not.
When it comes to making a decision about an opportunity, measure it against the plumb line of your mission statement. In today’s business world, business leaders often go off in entirely new directions just to try and make it, when in most cases the answer lies not in broadening scope and going in a new direction as much as it is honing in on the one for which they are already known. Sometimes it’s more about going inward and finding definition than it is about expanding outward and finding defeat.
If you have a strong mission statement, recommit to it. If you do not, follow these steps to develop one.
1. Keep it simple.
Three words to three sentences, but keep it simple.
2. Keep it clear.
Steer clear of the austere corporate buzzwords and just create a statement that clearly defines what you do and why you exist.
3. Keep it in front of everyone.
Everyone should know the mission statement, and (this is key) everyone should also use it. Every business decision should be measured against this statement. If it fits the mission, it is worthy of consideration. If it does not, it may not be a worthy pursuit.
Clarity is key. If your organization is struggling, go back to clarity. Is your mission clearly defined, communicated, and utilized? If not, fix that, and the rest will follow.
Leaders, it could very well be the success you seek for your organization lies well within the reach of a clear mission statement.