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WRITING A MISSION STATEMENT
5 Tips for a Useful Mission Statement
Too many company mission statements don't follow the few simple rules necessary to be truly effective and memorable. Here are five tips on writing one that will resonate with customers--and employees.
By Dave Smith
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5 Tips on Developing an Effective Mission Statement
What Does Your Company
Does your company "aim to be a leader of quality products, customer service, and innovation for tomorrow?" So do thousands of others. Sure, this statement sounds nice, but it means very little to your customers—and employees. An intelligible mission statement is essential to clarify the intentions of your business. Traditionally, mission statements are a blend of realism and optimism—two terms generally at odds with one another—and striking a balance between the two is the ultimate key to writing a great mission statement. So before you start your start-up, be sure to review these five tips on developing a truly effective mission statement.
Include the 4 Key Elements
Sure, mission statements can—and should—have that optimistic spin, but they ought to serve a real purpose. There are four key elements found in effective statements: Value, inspiration, plausibility, and specificity. In a couple of short sentences, you should be able to convey the value of your company or why your brand exists, inspire and encourage your employees, sound completely reasonable and plausible, and be as specific and relevant as possible. Find a key theme for your company, and make sure each of these components revolve around it.
Keep It Short and Sweet
Remember: This is a mission statement, not a mission essay. Try to sum up your entire company's mission in one or two sentences. Think of it this way: Your mission statement, at its absolute best, should be able to double as your slogan. Concise mission statements are also more memorable and effective. So there's no need to make it overly complicated; just state the purpose of your company, your reason for starting it in the first place.
Consider Long-Term vs. Short-Term
Mission statements can be wildly different from one company to the next. The idea here is to choose whether you want your company's statement to reflect its short-term goals or its long-term aspirations. Be sure to choose only one; specificity is key to an influential mission. While short-term mission statements allow you to be more specific with your goals, they also need to be updated more often to stay relevant. If you want the statement to be a long-term reflection, use global language indicative of your company's purpose, regardless of how much your company might expand in the future.
If you're revamping your statement, don't blindside your employees with the new message; test it out on them first. Distribute drafts of the mission statement to every employee, and ask them what, if anything, should be added or changed. Not only will you get a better, more comprehensive statement, but your employees will be more invested in it because they helped form it. Your mission statement needs to accurately reflect your company, and being transparent with your employees will help create a great message.
Revisit It Often
Evolution is inevitable. However, all too often a mission statement is written around the time of a company's birth and then forgotten about. Your statement ought to be an important representation of your company culture. It's an opportunity to institute an overall sense of identity and should be constantly maintained and referred to. Incorporate the ideas and themes of the statement in how you run your business, and be sure to revisit it regularly to make any necessary changes. No company ever stays exactly the same. Tweaking your statement ensures that it constantly parallels the direction of your company.
Last updated: Mar 22, 2011
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