What is a mission statement? Your mission statement answers the question, “why you exist as a company?” or “what is your organization’s core purpose?” Learn how to write one here from Erica Olsen of OnStrategy.
For more resources on building your strategic plan, view our Essentials Guide to Strategic Planning.
“Hi my name’s Erica Olsen. In this white board session we’re going to talk about mission statements. So what is a mission statement? Your mission statement answers the question why you exist as an organization or more importantly, what is your organizations core purpose. Okay, so most of the time mission statements don’t necessarily focus on the core purpose and we’re looking at putting a great mission statement together. So your mission statement needs to answer the question why you exist and you will have a great mission statement if you follow these characteristics. It needs to be short, memorable, inspiring, market focused. What do we mean by market focused? We mean who are we serving, what value we’re providing, why do people even do business with us, so market focused.
And what do you want to be remembered for? I just love that and we have a great example of these characteristics in play. Here’s one on the board ‘To organize the worlds information and make it universally accessible and useful’. One guess on that, does happen to be Google, world renowned as we know. So what’s great about this mission statement is it really says what Google wants to be remembered for, it really says it’s, I think it’s inspiring, it’s market focused and it’s short, what it’s not, it’s not fluffy. So you know that you have a great mission statement, when you read the statement and we can read the statement and know that it’s Google without actually having the organization’s name in the statement. So, another great sign of a mission statement. So how do you create a mission statement? Well, we’ve broken it down in to 3 areas here. People, info and process, so who needs to be involved? I highly recommend getting staff input.
Now clearly, not everyone of your staff members can be at the table when your putting your mission statement together but at minimum, send out a survey, have a little informal conversation, maybe via email, maybe in person about why, asking the question again why does your staff think you exist as an organization you will get great feedback I promise. Staff input and of course your management team. Somebody else who would be great to help put your mission statement together is a copywriter. Now maybe you have a copywriter on staff maybe you don’t but I think its great to pull a copywriter in when you have your key ideas together and we will talk about that. Your key ideas together so they can actually help you put a great statement together.
Info, so what info do you need? Well, you need input from your staff, you might get some other great mission statements together so you can use them as an example, so how about some other mission statements as well as your current statement to use that as a basis. Let’s bring it into the process; so we’ve got our people, we’ve got our info, get into a room maybe an hour or two hours with your management team possibly that copywriter and ask the question again why do we exist as an organization. With information ideas we have on the table, synthesize it down, right, till you have a couple of the key ideas and then you might consider throwing up those keywords on some sticky notes so you can move them around.
Every time I’ve worked with people we’ve always needed to move the words around we like to do that so come up with those keywords and move them around till you think you’ve got a great order and it sounds good. I recommend don’t wordsmith just come up with the key ideas, take that information from that meeting, either give it to the copywriter or take it yourself; draft a couple of different ways to articulate the mission statement, come back together with that same group of people and select the one you think best fits your organization. So lastly my tip is the tee shirt test. Would it fit on a tee shirt and would you wear it? And if it did and you produced one, would your staff wear it? If the answer is yes, you’ve got a great mission statement”