Ah, mission statements.
Most organizations have them, some remember when they were written. Mission statements are given prominent placement on our websites, official documents, and sometimes even our office walls. What is the most important action taken as a result of your mission statement? We’ll get to that in a minute.
In an ideal world, a mission statement is supposed to be meaningful, something you – and everyone in the organization – believe in enough to give a third of your life to make it happen. It is supposed to be your organization’s raison d’etre, your reason for being. It’s supposed to describe how you make a distinctive difference in the lives of the people who use your programs and services. A mission statement is supposed to be the foundation on which your goals, your yearly and quarterly objectives rest. Members of the organization are supposed to be able to see how their daily work, connects to the mission statement. They should want to wear it on a T-shirt.
Here is Microsoft’s:
“Our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”
“To be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavours to offer its customers the lowest possible prices.”
And here’s Google’s:
“To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
Inspiring right? Did these words move you toward or away from this organization? Would you wear one of these on a T-shirt?
See what we just did there? We passed judgment on these companies based on that one line. We read the mission statement, thought about our own experiences, and decided if that company met its mission statement when dealing with us… or not.
While mission statements are supposed to do a lot of things, the most important action taken as a result of your mission statement is by your customers/clients, funders and peers. People important to your organization will use your mission statement to quickly judge the fit of your organization to them. That’s a pretty big responsibility for wall art.
Many resources exist to help you create a mission statement. You can even hire firms to come into your organization and help create one. Being one of those resources is beyond the scope of this blog but it is a service we offer. In our experience mission statements could all begin with, “We change lives….by……”
The point of this article is to remind you that reading a mission statement is an insight into an organization’s opportunities, competency and commitment. Taking a moment to find and read a mission statement is a tool you can use to determine if that organization’s fit, form and function align with yours. If you are looking for collaboration opportunities, partnerships, a peer, or even a mentor organization, start with the mission statement. What is reflected in the mission statement will help you determine if the rest of the website – or even the RFP – is worth reading.
And if there isn’t a mission statement, well, you be the judge.
Here are our favourites.
Canadian Red Cross:
“To improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity in Canada and around the world.”
“Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”
“To provide a platform where research and information can be searched, shared, reviewed and collaborated upon to benefit humanity, the environment and the economy.”