A mission statement is a statement which is used as a way of communicating the purpose of the organization. Although most of the time it will remain the same for a long period of time, it is not uncommon for organisations to update their mission statement and generally happens when an organization evolves. Mission statements are normally short and simple statements which outline what the organisation's purpose is and are related to the specific sector an organisation operates in.
Properly crafted mission statements (1) serve as filters to separate what is important from what is not, (2) clearly state which markets will be served and how, and (3) communicate a sense of intended direction to the entire organization. A mission is different from a vision in that the former is the cause and the latter is the effect; a mission is something to be accomplished whereas a vision is something to be pursued for that accomplishment. Also called company mission, corporate mission, or corporate purpose.
The mission statement should guide the actions of the organization, spell out its overall goal, provide a path, and guide decision-making. It provides "the framework or context within which the company's strategies are formulated." It is like a goal for what the company wants to do for the world.
- Key market: Who is your target client or customer (generalize if needed)?
- Contribution: What product or service do you provide to that client?
- Distinction: What makes your product or service unique, so that the client would choose you?
A personal mission statement is developed in much the same way that an organizational mission statement is created. A personal mission statement is a brief description of what an individual wants to focus on, wants to accomplish and wants to become. It is a way to focus energy, actions, behaviors and decisions towards the things that are most important to the individual.
Purpose of a mission statement
The sole purpose of a mission statement is to serve as your company's goal/agenda, it outlines clearly what the goal of the company is. Some generic examples of mission statements would be, "To provide the best service possible within the banking sector for our customers." or "To provide the best experience for all of our customers." The reason why businesses make use of mission statements is to make it clear what they look to achieve as an organisation, not only to themselves and their employees but to the customers and other people who are a part of the business, such as shareholders. As a company evolves, so will their mission statement, this is to make sure that the company remains on track and to ensure that the mission statement does not lose its touch and become boring or stale.
An article which can be found here explains the purpose of a mission statement as the following:
"The mission statement reflects every facet of your business: the range and nature of the products you offer, pricing, quality, service, marketplace position, growth potential, use of technology, and your relationships with your customers, employees, suppliers, competitors and the community."
It is important that a mission statement is not confused with a vision statement. As discussed earlier, the main purpose of a mission statement is to get across the ambitions of an organisation in a short and simple fashion, it is not necessary to go into detail for the mission statement which is evident in examples given. The reason why it is important that a mission statement and vision statement are not confused is because they both serve different purposes. Vision statements tend to be more related to strategic planning and lean more towards discussing where a company aims to be in the future.
Mission statement vs vision statement
The definition of a vision statement according to BusinessDictionary is "An aspirational description of what an organisation would like to achieve or accomplish in the mid-term or long-term future. It is intended to serve as a clear guide for choosing current and future courses of action."
It is not hard to see why a lot of people confuse a mission statement and a vision statement, although both statements serve a different purpose for a company.
A mission statement is all about how an organisation will get to where they want to be and makes the purposes and objectives clear, whereas a vision statement is outlining where the organisation wants to be in the future. Mission statements are more concerned about the current times and tend to answer questions about what the business does or what makes them stand out compared to the competition, whilst vision statements are solely focused on where the organisation sees themselves in the future and where they aim to be. Both statements may be adapted later into the organisation's life, however it is important to keep the core of the statement there such as core values, customer needs and vision.
Although it may not seem very important to know the difference between the two types of statements, it is very important to businesses. This is because it is common for businesses to base their strategic plans around clear vision and mission statements. Both statements play a big factor in the strategic planning of a business. A study carried out by Bain & Company showed that companies which had clearly outlined vision and mission statements outperformed other businesses that did not have clear vision and mission statements.
Advantages of a mission statement
Provides direction: Mission statements are a great way to direct a business into the right path, it plays a part in helping the business make better decisions which can be beneficial to them. Without the mission statement providing direction, businesses may struggle when it comes to making decisions and planning for the future, this is why providing direction could be considered one of the most advantageous points of a mission statement.
Clear purpose: Having a clear purpose can remove any potential ambiguities that can surround the existence of a business. People who are interested in the progression of the business, such as stakeholders, will want to know that the business is making the right choices and progressing more towards achieving their goals, which will help to remove any doubt the stakeholders may have in the business.
The benefit of having a simple and clear mission statement is that it can be beneficial in many different ways. A mission statement can help to play as a motivational tool within an organisation, it can allow employees to all work towards one common goal that benefits both the organisation and themselves. This can help with factors such as employee satisfaction and productivity. It is important that employees feel a sense of purpose, by giving them this sense of purpose it will allow them to focus more on their daily tasks and help them to realise the goals of the organisation and their role.
Disadvantages of a mission statement
Although it is mostly beneficial for a business to craft a good mission statement, there are some situations where a mission statement can be considered pointless or not useful to a business.
Unrealistic: In most cases, mission statements turn out to be unrealistic and far too optimistic. An unrealistic mission statement can also affect the performance and morale of the employees within the workplace. This is because an unrealistic mission statement would reduce the likelihood of employees being able to meet this standard which could demotivate employees in the long term. Unrealistic mission statements also serve no purpose and can be considered a waste of management's time. Another issue which could arise from an unrealistic mission statement is that poor decisions could be made in an attempt to achieve this goal which has the potential to harm the business and be seen as a waste of both time and resources.
Waste of time and resources: Mission statements require planning, this takes time and effort for those who are responsible for creating the mission statement. If the mission statement is not achieved, then the process of creating the mission statement could be seen as a waste of time for all of the people involved. A lot of thought and time is spent in designing a good mission statement, and to have all of that time wasted is not what businesses can afford to be doing. The wasted time could have been spent on much more important tasks within the organisation such as decision-making for the business.
Designing a mission statement
According to Forbes, the following questions must be answered in the mission statement. "What we do?" The mission statement should clearly outline the main purpose of the organisation, and what they do. "How do we do it?" It should also mention how you plan on achieving the mission statement. "Whom do we do it for?" The audience of the mission statement should be clearly stated within the mission statement. "What value are we bringing?" The benefits and values of the mission statement should be clearly outlined. When designing your mission statement, it should be very clear to the audience what the purpose of it is. It is ideal for a business to be able to communicate their mission, goals and objectives to the reader without including any unnecessary information through the mission statement. "Your mission is the soul of your brand.".
Richard Branson has commented on ways of crafting a good mission statement; he explains the importance of having a mission statement that is clear and straight to the point and does not contain unnecessary baffling. He went on to analyse a mission statement, using Yahoo's mission statement at the time (2013) as an example, in his evaluation of the mission statement he seemed to suggest that while the statement sounded interesting most people will not be able to understand the message it is putting across, in other words the message of the mission statement potentially meant nothing to the audience. This further backs up the idea that a good mission statement is one that is clear and answers the right questions in a simple manner, and does not over complicate things. An example of a good mission statement would be Google's, which is "to organise the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful."
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