Your Mission Statement Sucks

WOW! That felt good.

I have been wanting to say that for a long time.  Some 20 years ago mission and vision statements became “must-have” fashion statements for businesses…as a matter of fact all organizations.

Maybe it’s just me but I feel like most of them are just words that sound nice.  Once crafted (usually by committee) they are dutifully gelded and placed on a shelf where they gather dust.  (That was gelded not gilded.  Look it up)  Frequently they are too long.  More often they can’t be understood.

My church is a great example.  Whenever we bring in new members the congregation reads it together aloud.  It is pasted in the back of the hymnals (yes, we still have those archaic things) It was created by some overly large committee.  Everyone’s opinion was honored.  It takes up an entire page and 5 minutes to read.  Don’t ask me what it says and don’t ask me to boil it down to any kind of essence…but we got one…a mission statement, that is.

This article is a great start to rethinking yours.  You do need one…just not a dusty shelf-worn one.

On the one hand, we have vision, mission and values statements that sound inspirational, but are so general they are almost entirely ignored. On the other hand, we have quarterly objectives we pay attention to, but these shorter term tactics can lack inspiration.

What becomes clear is that we are missing a directional document that is both inspirational and concrete. We need — using the language from Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad in their HBR piece — Strategic Intent. Going beyond their original definition, I advocate that executives develop a single 3-5 year strategic intent that is both aspirational and measureable. This can sound simple, but getting it right is not for the faint-hearted. It takes courage, insight and foresight to create such strategic clarity. Consider the following guidelines:…More at If I Read One More Platitude-Filled Mission Statement, I’ll Scream