Mission Statements make me cry. And not in a good way like at the end of Star Wars. (Don’t tell anyone).
Pass me a tissue and I’ll tell you why…
Mission Statements Trick TeamsTeams desire cohesion. They long for alignment. When it is missing, they seek to fill that void – urgently. Since the “mission statement” is probably the most firmly entrenched meme in business, they say “We need one!” And then the fun begins. Legion are the times I’ve heard horror stories about the creation of mission statements, from the front line to mahogany row. Mission statements are supposed to focus an organization, give it purpose, but usually they lead teams to sad, forgotten places.
Mission Statements Are Mangled
The other day, someone told me that the FedEx mission statement is “The World on Time.” Sorry, that is a slogan. This is the FedEx Mission Statement at the time of this writing:
“FedEx Corporation will produce superior financial returns for its shareowners by providing high value-added logistics, transportation and related business 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.”
People routinely mix-up mission statements, vision statements, positioning statements, you name it statements. It amazes me that a business idea can be so routinely mangled, and yet still live on.
Mission Statements Are ImpracticalThe ultra-rare quality mission statement is a mash up of “What is our purpose?” “Why do we exist?” “How do we achieve our vision?” Try and answer these questions for yourself in one to three sentences. Good luck! The very idea of a mission statement is too big to metabolize and operationalize. Only when you take the time to unpack the mission statement into its component parts, does it become meaningful – if you are lucky. That’s why so few people know the Mission Statement of their firm.
Mission Statements Are Innately Hard to FacilitateAs with brand development, the more people you add to the decision making team, the higher the likelihood of a host of decision making pathologies that can sabotage the best intended project. That’s the reason you can get ten brilliant team members in a room and come out with a mission statement that is as dumb as a rock.
In my next post, I’ll let you in on my dirty little Mission Statement secret.