One of our most received questions from our readers is “How do I write an awesome mission statement?” While that can be a loaded question, we thought we would break down the basics of mission statements and outline the checklist we use to make sure mission statements are both useful and inspiring.
The Basics of a Mission
A mission statement, by definition, boldly states your organization’s core purpose. It answers the question “why do we exist?”. Your mission needs to boldly state why you exist and why you do what you do. The best mission statements express your core propose and why you exist with clarity.
In terms of language, we always recommend mission statements be written in present tense with the use of concrete language. Writing in present tense allows your mission to be easily deciphered from your vision statement, which is written in future tense. Solid language leaves little room for interpretation to what exactly your mission statement means.
Anatomy of a Good Mission Statement
Examples of Good Mission Statements
Google – “Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
Walmart – “We save people money so they can live better.”
TED – “Spread ideas.”
Kickstarter – “To help bring creative projects to life.”
SoFi – “SoFi is reinventing customer finance for the better.”
The Checklist for Great Mission Statements
When we help our clients create their mission statements, we always use this short checklist to ensure every mission statement is putting its best foot forward. If each box isn’t checked, we go back and rework the statement until we can check it off. Here’s the list:
- Your mission must be foundational. It clearly states why your organization exists.
- It’s original.It’s unique to your organization. If you were to read the mission statements of all the organizations in your industry, yours would be different than your competition.
- It’s memorable.Memorable = motivating to employees, prospective employees and customers.
- It fits on a t-shirt.– Peter Drucker famously advised that your mission statement should be short and compelling enough to fit on a t-shirt your staff would actually wear.
How to Create Mission Statement Creation
Whether you’re writing a new mission statement or revisiting yours as part of a planning process, we’ve created a canvas you can use to create a mission statement that inspires your team. You can download it here for free!
Final Thoughts about Mission Statements
As a leader, you control whether the mission statement is a guide to your direction or if it becomes trite. You can spend all the time in the world building a great mission, but if it doesn’t guide your organization strategically then it’s not worth your time. The most important part of your mission statement is keeping your organization on its path, unwavering from why you exist.