Mission statements are used by companies to explain in simple and concise terms why they exist, or what their contribution to the wider community is. This serves to provide a focus for employees towards what the organisation is trying to achieve, and helps them to work out how they can contribute.
Sometimes the terms ‘mission statement’ and ‘vision statement’ are used interchangeably or even combined into a single statement. But they mean two very different things. A mission statement declares what the company is doing right now, while a vision statement is what the company hopes to achieve in the future.
From the perspective of organisational transformation, a mission statement provides the context of the bigger picture. It’s an inspiring reminder to everyone of what their collective efforts are contributing to, which is easy to lose sight of in the tornado of daily operations.
- Mission statements provide direction and help the people in the organisation to make faster and better decision on where to put their time and energy.
- Mission statement highlight the company’s core values and helps everybody to immediately understand what the purpose of the company is and how it is different to competitors.
- A mission statement makes it very clear how a company does business.
- A mission statement must be lived, not just pasted on walls. This requires significant effort from everyone within the organisation.
- Mission statements can be too focused on internal and/or short term issues, which can result in the company to become obsolete if the external environment changes faster than their mission (think Blockbusters).
Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, Simon Sinek, 2011; ISBN: 9781591846444