On my way home today I walked past this guy on the street standing outside one of the newest hippest restaurants downtown. He was on the phone talking shop and having a smoke. As I walked by he said, “We have to keep it short and sweet bro.” And after a short pause, “Huh? What? Mission statement? No, man. We are not writing a fucking mission statement. Forget that crap.” And it didn’t stop there as I moved out of earshot.
Is he right?
Do you need a mission statement?
How many companies have you worked for? Or have you always been on your own?
Well, I have been at 7 during my 24 illustrious years in the A+D (Architecture + Design) Industry and I can honestly say a mission statement that influences what I do or what I have done is still forthcoming. Don’t get me wrong. There have likely been mission statements in there somewhere but what have they done for me? Up to now?
Not so much……
You are not going to sit there and say something like “You didn’t spend the time to look for it, ask about it or understand it” are you?
I hope not because then I would have to hold up my bullshit card.
So, what about you then?
Do you work for someone, are you the kingpin of your organization or are you an entrepreneur and work for yourself? Did I leave anyone out?
What’s your mission statement? Do you know? When’s the last time you looked at it?
If you have one or have access to one go read it now.
Did you find it?
I searched around ye ole internet a bit and found that many big corporations don’t have them posted on their websites for us to see. Maybe I just don’t know where to look but there was resounding silence in the search for these, oh so fabulous, missions. I tried tech giants, auto manufacturers, clothing companies, professional services firms and on and on. After an hour of hitting websites I was out of gas.
A mission statement is a statement of the purpose of a company or organization, its reason for existing.
They have to be there, right?
So why don’t any of the companies I searched have them available to John Q Public?
Based on that experience I am not suggesting that a mission statement is a bad idea I am just wondering if it really drives any results. I suppose if you look at it in the light of a way to measure success then you could certainly find some positive results by acting on the ideas that a mission statement offers. If so, then why is it so hard to find?
Wouldn’t you want that to be public knowledge?
“Oh no Bob, we can’t make our mission statement PUBLIC! What if we can’t live up to it? That would be a PR nightmare and a royal disaster.”
Personally I feel one form of success is treating people with respect and dignity and sharing the goals of the organization with employees and the company’s consumers by bringing them into the fold, so to speak. Shouldn’t the attitude of the employee base, consumer base, management and leadership be aligned? Like-minded, per se. If the stars align then the goals of the organization are met and their people and customers are happy.
“What utopia do you live in?” you might wonder. Well, you know what, I work in such an organization and so can you.
Listen, as I mentioned, I have worked in a few different places and they were not all stellar. I moved or got out because there was a misalignment between their goals or, ahem, their mission and mine.
I probably just didn’t get it.
The question is “Do you really need a mission statement to define the attitude of a corporation?”
Is it that black and white or are we talking about something that needs a lot more consideration? To me, no. If I don’t get what is going on based on my interaction with the people that I work with, the same people whose attitudes drive the results of the organization, then I don’t agree with their mission whether I know what it is or not.
Public or private.
So, go ahead and write your mission statement but before you do be sure you know why you are doing what you are doing, your people know why you are doing it and if you don’t then figure that out first. Maybe you will decide you don’t need one.
Why do I write a blog?
Because I want to have fun creating words that can help people and that can help me be a better person.
Why do I work at the firm I do?
Because I love the opportunity to think like an entrepreneur and am trusted to push the envelope within my field of expertise.
Are those my mission statements or are they just how I feel about what I do?
One and the same?
Over to you: do you have a mission statement and if you do does it mean something special to you?