Take any major company you know, and you’re bound to discover that it has a mission statement. A mission statement, in its most basic form, is nothing more than a summary of an organisation’s goals and values.
Google, for example, operates under a very simple premise: “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” This informs everything that Google creates and provides to its consumers. Sir Richard Brandon’s company Virgin Airlines also boasts a very simple mission statement. “To embrace the human spirit and let it fly.”. Toward this end, everything they do is meant to “make flying good again.”
As the economy takes yet another new turn, many companies will perhaps be reevaluating their mission statements. They will want to determine if they still are relevant to the company’s present goals, aims, and directions. If not, then it will be time to return to the drawing board. They will need to design a new mission statement that is more compatible with the way the company has since evolved.
If your team finds itself in such a camp, not to worry. Below are 4 questions to ask yourself during this process that will make developing a new mission statement an easier task.
1. What is your why?
Simon Sinek’s popular book Start with Why, he discusses how movements become contagious not necessarily because of their leaders but because of what those leaders represent: their purpose, their cause, their belief. Understanding this is essential to creating a mission statement that your employees and consumers can enthusiastically get behind.
Let’s take the example once more of Virgin Airlines. Despite being new on the scene within the airline industry, Virgin Airlines had already flown 1 million passengers in less than a decade of being in service. They were also the first airline to offer individual TVs to their business class passengers. Their why of “making flying good again” rallied a dedicated fan base, and it wasn’t long before they became famous for the world-class service they offer to all their passengers (from first-class to coach).
So, what is your company’s ‘why’? What pains do you seek to remedy? What problems do you seek to solve? And why is that important? How does it improve life for your clients and/or consumers?
2. What does success look like?
Clarity is fundamental when it comes to laying down the foundations for your company’s growth. Your mission statement serves the purpose of giving your company a goal. Tim Cook, the current CEO of Apple, Inc., offers these words to potential new employees: “Apple has always been different…It’s a special place where we have the opportunity to create the best products on earth – products that change lives and help shape the future…”
It’s no surprise then that Apple has come to be a company that is known for constantly focusing on innovating. Some of the greatest advances in technology have come out of Apple, and few would argue that they’re a leader in consumer technology. This can certainly be a way for Apple to measure its success.
How will your company measure its own success? Is it when you’re the leader in your own industry? Is it when you’ve reached a certain milestone in sales or customer acquisitions? Knowing this now will help you work harder and in a more focused way toward reaching your company goals.
3. What resources do you need to make it happen?
Sir Richard Branson needed licenses, aircraft, and staff members in order to get his airline off the ground. Steve Jobs needed the partnership of engineer Steve Wozniak (and his parents’ garage) to found Apple, Inc.
What additional resources might your company need in order to get to the next level in the next financial year? These additional resources can take the form of new employees, new management, new projects, new consultants, new contracts, and so on. Think outside the box and consider ways that your company might be stagnant in its growth at present. What can push it to a new stage of evolution? What will it need to grow in a new direction?
4. Who does the mission statement affect?
One of the most important aspects of architecting a mission statement is to consider who your mission statement will ultimately affect. One of Steve Jobs’ rookie mistakes during Apple’s initial growth was designing a computer for the every-day person (the famous Macintosh). But then sticking a price tag on it that the average consumer could in no way afford.
But knowing who your mission statement affects goes beyond the client and/or consumer. It’s also equally important to consider your company’s employees. They will be brand ambassadors for your company, after all. So they need to believe that the work they do somehow contributes to the overall big picture. That said, where possible, involve your teams in the creation of the company’s mission statement. Get their input and involvement. When you do this, staff members begin to take ownership of the mission statement and feel as if it’s their own, which means they’re more apt to go the extra mile in helping the company reach its accomplishments.
Developing mission statements can be a challenging business, but with the guidance of the 4 questions above, you’ll gain the clarity and knowledge you need to press forward with confidence and ease. As a result, you’ll design a fitting mission statement that will help your company evolve in the New Year and achieve its goals like never before.
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Rosalind Cardinal is the Principal Consultant of Shaping Change, a consultancy specialising in improving business outcomes by developing individuals, teams and organisations.
Ros is a solutions and results oriented facilitator and leadership coach, with a career in the Human Resources and Organisational Development field spanning more than 20 years. Ros’ expertise spans leadership development, organisational culture, team building, change and transition management, emotional intelligence, organisational behaviour, employee engagement, strategic direction and management.
Ros is a Certified Member of the Australian Human Resources Institute (CAHRI), a member of the Australian Institute of Training and Development (AITD) and a Professional Member of the Australian Association for Psychological Type (AusAPT). She holds a Graduate Diploma in Human Resources from Deakin University, an Australian Human Resources Institute Professional Diploma in Human Resources and has completed the Australian Graduate School of Management Executive Program, Strategic Human Resource Management.