Your organization’s mission statement tells the world why you do what you do. Why do you exist? It’s the foundation for success. Understanding and communicating your “why” through a mission statement will attract like-minded employees, customers, and donors.
Without a clear mission, organizations seem to drift from opportunity to opportunity in the business world with no clear focus. These types of companies leave both employees and customers feeling uninspired and unmotivated. On the other hand, companies that create a shared mission are able to unite diverse groups of people. These companies perform better and their employees report higher levels of job satisfaction. Connecting with a higher mission or purpose increases happiness, which contributes to higher rates of job satisfaction for employees.
A clear mission also provides important boundaries for the activities of the organization. Without parameters, organizations tend to experience mission creep, stretching resources too thin and losing track of the original “why” at their core. For instance, many non-profits rely, in part, on funding from grants. A clear mission statement will help guide decisions about which grants are right for the organization. Some grants request services that may require an organization to stray too far from its mission.
So how can you tell if your mission statement is effective? Here are four elements of a powerful mission statement:
Specific: If a mission is too broad, it is difficult to get behind. The best mission statements are specific and focused, while still being substantive. Even if you have a broad range of products and services, your mission statement should be the thread that ties everything together.
Short (one or two sentences): According to business guru, Peter Drucker, a mission statement should be short enough to fit on a t-shirt, but not so short that it’s a slogan.
Memorable: Memorable mission statements evoke an emotion. They should be energizing and inspirational, and represent the intent of your organization. Just be careful not to go so far that the mission statement becomes a parody of itself.
Concise: Work with a wordsmith to make your mission statement concise. Cut out the fluff. While it’s best to engage a broad team in developing your mission statement, the final statement can’t be developed by a committee. A good writer can clearly and concisely express the sentiments of the group.
Examples of Good Mission Statements
Here are some mission statements that meet these criteria:
- Henry Ford Health System: “To improve people’s lives through excellence in the science and art of health care and healing.”
- Starbucks: “To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”
- Google: “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
What is your organization’s mission statement? Is it effective? Why or why not? Share your thoughts in the comments below.