Posted by: Joe Hoffman | January 19, 2009

Vision and Mission Statements – Why bother?

First Man on the Moon Bootprint

First Man on the Moon Bootprint

The problem with vision and mission statements that I most often see is they are just not memorable.  Paragraphs long, full of comas and dependant clauses, making every attempt to get all of the stakeholders represented.  Creating these monstrosities wasted innumerable hours of management’s time; they confuse the staff and customers and add no value to the business.

The essence of a good vision and or mission statement is simplicity and clarity.  It should provide every employee of the business (you too, boss) with a simple way to determine if what they are about to do is consistent with the goal.  How many words does it take?  Not many.  Here are 27 words that changed history, “… this nation should commit itself to achieving a goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth.” John F. Kennedy

Suppose you make security products, your mission could be reduced to “Save Lives”.  Everyone in the company can readily determine if what they are a doing fits the mission.  They can remember it as well.

What about a pizza business; “…safe, healthy food for people on the go.”

Your statement should be very much like the first paragraph grab of a good executive summary for your business plan.  It is not about the speeds, feeds, and technology but about the problem and its solution.  A website developer for example should be looking at the cost, value and ROI from the potential client perspective in their statement.  Your client does not care how you do it, they just want to know the answer to; “…what will my business gain from what I pay you?”

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Responses

  1. Joe,
    Truer words have rarely been spoken. Funny how this “craze” has died down somewhat. It was all the rage for awhile for every company to define it’s mission and vision. In most cases it became a craze for everyone in the company to be responsible for at least one word in the statement.
    As you stated, it needs to be concise and memorable. Domino’s Pizza and Southwest Airlines have done it correctly in the past. A great statement makes it perfectly clear for every employee in every action they take on a daily basis…

  2. Joe, That is so true. I have read a few mission statements and still lacked understanding. :0

    “If people only knew how hard I work to gain my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.” – Michelangelo

    I takes a lot of work to put together something short and to the point.

    “about the problem and its solution” great statement.


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