As facilitators, we often see organizations scoff at the idea of revisiting and updating their mission statement. Why? If approached incorrectly, developing your mission statement is an arduous, painful process filled with nit-picky wordsmithing and un-inspirational clichés.
The truth is your mission is a foundational element in all great strategic plans and can be leveraged to drive organizational focus. You need a great mission statement for a better 2017 strategic plan. Period.
To make your mission the heartbeat of your strategic plan in 2017, follow these three core steps (plus you can watch our overview video below to supplement steps 1-2 of this process):
Step One: Revisit your mission and dissect it
Even if you think you have a good mission statement, now is the time to revisit it. Before you copy and paste it into your 2017 plan, make sure that it follows this fundamental anatomy and structure. If it doesn’t, you should consider dissecting it and adjusting it to fit this structure.
Present tense verb + who you serve + what you do.
- Present tense verb – All great mission statements start with an action oriented, present tense verb.
- Explain what you do – This explains your organization’s “why.” Answer what the benefit to your existence is.
- Explain who you serve – Who benefits from your existence?
Step Two: Pressure test with these five criteria
Once you’ve written or restructured your mission following the anatomy above, you can move forward to pressure test its real-world applicability. A mission statement will flop if it doesn’t pass these five criteria:
- It’s original – Mission statements aren’t something you can copy from someone else. They need to be unique, speaking directly to your organization’s purpose.
- It’s foundational – Mission statements aren’t meant to be changed all the time. While you may be rewriting it now, you need to make sure this iteration can withstand time.
- It connects with staff – Your mission is great when every staff member wakes up and knows what their reason to come to work every day is. Your mission clearly states this. ******This criteria is particularly important. We will go over this in our final step.
- It’s memorable – Having a memorable mission means that it’s short and concise. It’s a statement, not a full paragraph.
- It fits on a t-shirt – Great mission statements fit on a t-shirt AND your staff needs to be willing to wear it.
Step Three: Use Your mission statement to lead with the “why”
This is the most important step. The most powerful strategies and the most inspirational leaders lead their organizations to success by leading with the “why.” Simon Sinek and thought leaders alike agree leading your organization with the why is the path to success. See his Ted Talk on leading with the “why” below:
Communicating and leading with your mission allows everyone in your organization to very clearly understand your core purpose and belief. If everyone understands your “why,” it’s easier for them (and you) to understand what you’re doing (strategic objectives) and how you’ll do it (action items).
Remain vigilant to your mission statement. Lead with it. Recite it. Make it visible. You’ll be amazed at how much easier it is for you to achieve results if you can build a plan that leads with your core purpose.