Win Hearts with Your Mission Statement
Every tool has its purpose; your organization has one too. Its purpose goes beyond just making money or achieving metrics, of course. You’re changing the lives of your customers, employees, partners and/or volunteers in little and sometimes big ways.
The “mission” of your organization is its basic purpose. Sometimes stated in “eight words or less,” your mission gets right to the point of what your organization does. Google’s mission is to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Tesla’s mission is to “to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.” These missions are short, clear, and exciting. What’s yours?
Why your mission is important
An inspiring mission statement will attract the energy of your stakeholders - especially delighted customers. In the words of leadership expert Simon Sinek, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Look at shoemaker Tom’s Shoes. Legions of buyers catapulted the company to success in the 2000’s because of the company’s bold mission that “for every pair of shoes the company sold, a new pair would be given to a child in need.” What an inspiring mission!
The “why” is just as important for your staff or employees. The experts at Harvard say that “people’s work lives are enriched greatly when they feel they are making progress on work that is meaningful.” People’s like believing in something, and they like doing what they believe in. You’ll see the results when your employee retention and employee engagement ticks upwards.
How to develop a mission
How should you go about building a mission statement? First ask yourself, why do I get up in the morning? How is your work changing the world? Next, think of a group of your key stakeholders - employees, customers, board members, or funding sources - and put yourself in their shoes. Why do they associate with you?
Next, put words to paper and stick to the principle that “a mission should fit on a t-shirt.” I’ve seen mission statements that blather on for miles; you don’t want this. Keep it short and sweet. Otherwise how will people remember it?
Now, test it out! Ask your stakeholders and partners what they think of it. Revise, repeat. When you get it right, you’ll know it.
How is a mission different from a vision?
A mission is sometimes confused for a “vision.” These are not the same things. Think of the organizational vision as the world that you want to create. If your organization is a tool whose mission is its purpose, then the “vision” is the work of art you’re crafting. It’s the long term goal.
Examples of good mission statements
Here are some examples of mission statements that I particularly enjoy:
IKEA: “To create a better everyday life for the many people.”
JetBlue: “To inspire humanity – both in the air and on the ground.”
TED: “Spread ideas.”
I hope you found this article informative. If you’d like to work on your mission with me, please call or book a free consultation so that we discuss how to craft your organization’s purpose.