Mission, Vision, Goals
Today there is a lot of discussion about vision, mission, and goals. In fact I see many companies investing loads of time, money and effort in coming up with their “mission statement.” Usually this is a few inspiring sentences that are placed on plaques to hang on the wall or printed on the back of business cards or put on the company web site. With few exceptions, this often amounts to a big waste of time!
The fact is few of these mission statements accomplish what they were intended to do. That is “motivate employees to perform at a higher level.” Ironically, however, after a month or so not even the CEO, let alone the employees can even remember one word of the mission statement.
So does this mean establishing a mission for your company is a useless task?
Not necessarily. Yet in order to understand how to make mission planning a valuable tool we must first understand WHAT a “mission” is. In short, a mission is a course of action that a company decides to pursue. It is the road they will travel in order to ensure they arrive at their ultimate destination. It is their plan for achieving their vision. A mission is not something we say, it is something we do.
Mission Statement Development
A mission statement describes “how” you will achieve your vision. It describes the “road” that you will walk. It outlines your values and is a summary of your plan to accomplish your goals.
Here are some basic guidelines in writing a mission statement:
- A mission statement should say who your company is, what you do, what you stand for, and why you do it.
- An effective mission statement is best developed with input by all the members of an organization.
- The best mission statements tend to be 3-4 sentences long.
- Avoid saying how great you are, what great quality and what great service you provide.
- Examine other company’s mission statements, but make certain your statement is you and not some other company. That is why you should not copy a statement.
- Make sure you actually believe in your mission statement, if you don’t, it’s a lie, and your customers will soon realize it.
Step-by-Step Mission Plan Development
Answering the following questions will help you to create a verbal picture of your business’s mission:
- Why are you in business? What do you want for yourself, your family, and your customers? Think about the spark that ignited your decision to start a business. What will keep it burning?
- Who are your customers? What can you do for them that will enrich their lives and contribute to their success–now and in the future?
- What image of your business do you want to convey? Customers, suppliers, employees and the public will all have perceptions of your company. How will you create the desired picture?
- What is the nature of your products and services? What factors determine pricing and quality? Consider how these relate to the reasons for your business’s existence. How will all this change over time?
- What level of service do you provide? Most companies believe they offer “the best service available,” but do your customers agree? Don’t be vague; define what makes your service so extraordinary.
- What roles do you and your employees play? Wise captains develop a leadership style that organizes, challenges, and recognizes employees.
- What kind of relationships will you maintain with suppliers? Every business is in partnership with its suppliers. When you succeed, so do they.
- How do you differ from your competitors? Many entrepreneurs forget they are pursuing the same dollars as their competitors. What do you do better, cheaper or faster than competitors do? How can you use competitors’ weaknesses to your advantage?
- How will you use technology, capital, processes, products, and services to reach your goals? A description of your strategy will keep your energies focused on your goals.
- What underlying philosophies or values guided your responses to the previous questions? Some businesses choose to list these separately. Writing them down clarifies the “why” behind your mission.
Mission Statement Example:
Here is a great example of a mission statement for a food company:
“Xyz Inc. is a spunky, imaginative food products and service company aimed at offering high-quality, moderately priced, occasionally unusual foods using only natural ingredients. We view ourselves as partners with our customers, our employees, our community and our environment. We aim to become a regionally recognized brand name, capitalizing on the sustained interest in Southwestern and Mexican food. Our goal is moderate growth, annual profitability, and maintaining our sense of humor.”
Hopefully after reading this article and following these easy steps, you’ll be on your way to creating a solid mission statement.