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Bad Mission Statements: worse than none at all

A nice article on company mission statements on Seth’s Blog challenges organisations to actually live up to what they say. Does your company have one? Are you a little embarrassed by it, or even baffled as to what it actually means? Or is it a clear statement which keeps the organisation on the right track?

A worthwhile mission statement is for internal guidance but tells the outside world what you’re up to. It should define the type of client the company would like to have, what its products or services will do for them, and how these might differ from competitors. It’s easy to scoff at mission statements, because so many are utter rubbish, but a good one can help both the company and its customers.

Sadly, most mission statements have been written long after the stable door was left open and the horse bolted, and try to summarise what the company has been doing, if it’s had any real direction at all. They have no real point to them, other than to fill out a corporate brochure. If a mission statement contains a sentence where the opposite would be undesirable, you know it’s just waffle.

For example, it’s not uncommon for a mission statement to contain phrases such as “delivering a great customer experience” or “producing quality products”, as if any company would admit to doing anything else. These aren’t guiding principles, they’re minimum expectations. And if your company’s mission statement really is to “deliver sustained growth for our shareholders“, then just keep it internal, because that isn’t going to get customers queueing up at the door.

Anyone needing help in generating a meaningless mission statement, meanwhile, is directed to Jon Haworth’s Mission Statement Generator.

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