Your mission statement means more than just a bunch of words


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Take a look at your company mission statement. What does say, no really; what does it SAY? Let’s take a look at several well-known international companies and see what their mission statement says:

Avaya:

Provide the world's best communications solutions that enable businesses to excel

Barnes & Noble:

Our mission is to operate the best specialty retail business in America, regardless of the product we sell. Because the product we sell is books, our aspirations must be consistent with the promise and the ideals of the volumes which line our shelves. To say that our mission exists independent of the product we sell is to demean the importance and the distinction of being booksellers. As booksellers we are determined to be the very best in our business, regardless of the size, pedigree or inclinations of our competitors. We will continue to bring our industry nuances of style and approaches to bookselling which are consistent with our evolving aspirations. Above all, we expect to be a credit to the communities we serve, a valuable resource to our customers, and a place where our dedicated booksellers can grow and prosper. Toward this end we will not only listen to our customers and booksellers but embrace the idea that the Company is at their service.

Citigroup:

Our goal for Citigroup is to be the most respected global financial services company. Like any other public company, we're obligated to deliver profits and growth to our shareholders. Of equal importance is to deliver those profits and generate growth responsibly.

Estee Lauder Company:

The guiding vision of The Estee Lauder Companies is "Bringing the best to everyone we touch". By "The best", we mean the best products, the best people and the best ideas. These three pillars have been the hallmarks of our Company since it was founded by Mrs. Estee Lauder in 1946. They remain the foundation upon which we continue to build our success today.

FedEx:

FedEx will produce superior financial returns for shareowners by providing high value-added supply chain, transportation, business and related information services through focused operating companies. Customer requirements will be met in the highest quality manner appropriate to each market segment served. FedEx will strive to develop mutually rewarding relationships with its employees, partners and suppliers. Safety will be the first consideration in all operations. Corporate activities will be conducted to the highest ethical and professional standards.

The Ford Motor Company:

We are a global family with a proud heritage passionately committed to providing personal mobility for people around the world.

Harley-Davidson, Inc:

We fulfill dreams through the experience of motorcycling, by providing to motorcyclists and to the general public an expanding line of motorcycles and branded products and services in selected market segments.

The Hershey Company

Undisputed Marketplace Leadership

IBM:

Operating a safe and secure government

Mattel Inc:

Mattel makes a difference in the global community by effectively serving children in need . Partnering with charitable organizations dedicated to directly serving children, Mattel creates joy through the Mattel Children's Foundation, product donations, grant making and the work of employee volunteers. We also enrich the lives of Mattel employees by identifying diverse volunteer opportunities and supporting their personal contributions through the matching gifts program.

Nike Inc:

To bring inspiration and innovation to every athelete in the world

Walt Disney Company:

The mission of The Walt Disney Company is to be one of the world's leading producers and providers of entertainment and information. Using our portfolio of brands to differentiate our content, services and consumer products, we seek to develop the most creative, innovative and profitable entertainment experiences and related products in the world.

What is a mission statement for?

Before we look at the “best practices” of crafting a good mission statement, let’s understand what the mission statement is all about. It really is, first and foremost, a statement to the everyone of what your business is all about; it is your reason for being. It is your core purpose which normally does not change much over time, although it may evolve as the company evolves.

What we learn from these examples:

1. Length of the statement

There is really no optimum length. You will notice that some of the statements, like those of Barnes & Noble and Mattel are paragraphs, rather than one liners. Others, like Hershey or IBM are rather cryptic. You need to use as many words as you like, and as few. So long as they tell your mission clearly.

2. It tells of what your provide and to whom

With the exception of Hershey, all the other mission statements were explicit in what services they provide and to whom. Some were more specific in how they perceive themselves, and how they want others to perceive them. Notice how Mattel was so specific when they identify their clients as children in need. Hence everytime a person buys a Mattel toy, they are also helping children in need.

3. It evolves

Although we can’t see the evolution here, we all know IBM to be the pioneers of the desktop computer. Yet today, they are not in this space already. Their mission, “Operating a safe and secure government”, is so specific. Indeed, IBM is now spearheading the SmartNation initiative and that has become its mission statement. No longer about computers, no longer about information, all about the government.

4. Unique value proposition

Your mission statement should trumpet your differentiated value. Avaya wants businesses to excel; Barnes & Noble wants to be a credit to the community; Estee Lauder is to give of their best; FedEx offers quality and safety; IBM is a safe and secure government; Nike is inspiration and innovation. Just about every mission statement is written with the differentiated value proposition in full view.

Time to rewrite YOUR mission statement? So take another look at your mission statement. What does it say? Does it embrace these best practices? Is it time for you to rewrite your mission statement? Remember, your mission statement is the ambassador for your brand. Make it work for you!

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