No one ever talks about mission statements anymore.

Apparently, they've become too old school-something you write down, plaster to an oak board, hang in the reception area, and then forget about forever. It's better to do the mission than to just create a mission statement. It's better to act missionally than to pretend you believe in a fancy statement intended more for the boardroom than the breakroom. Action trumps belief because action proves belief.

But what if we bring back this idea of having a rallying cry for a company? What if stating your intentions in a formal way really does help everyone in the firm stand more firm? And what if we change things up and call it a manifesto instead of a mission?

I love the word. It means to have a declaration of aims. According to the technical definition, it is often used in political circles and not in business. I say we steal the word back. Having a manifesto can be inspiring because it's a clear path to success, a way to instill confidence in employees, a guide for investors and partners, and even a personal statement about where you want to lead a company. It creates a common goal and a common vision.

So how do you create one?

First, you have to dig pretty deep. Any declaration has to be well-planned. Hold a few "manifesto" meetings with your staff and explain why you want to use the word as a way to guide decision making. Champion the word like it is a brand new concept and not something that originated back in the 1700s. A manifesto is a public statement about intent. It also means to "make obvious" which is something every employee is craving. They want to know where this is all going.

Second, you'll need to be ready to move toward that goal. That might involve putting some of the pieces in place. A manifesto about owning the grocery delivery business and stealing it from Amazon will require a budget and some clever strategy. A manifesto about a mobile app might require some programming chops. When you declare your manifesto, be ready to have a plan on how you will complete that manifesto.

Third, make sure this is the goal you want. You can't make a public declaration and then change your mind later. It's a bold pronouncement. Before you shout it from the rooftops, make sure you have a road built that gets you from one place to another.

A manifesto isn't just a way to get everyone to agree to your goals for the company. It's a way to get everyone involved and connected to those goals. When it is your goal, people might balk. When it is a goal they have created and like, they will be more likely to achieve it. Make sure you get buy-in. Instill the manifesto in your staff. Generate enthusiasm. Climb up on a desk and declare your intentions once and for all.

Published on: Jun 4, 2015