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You Had Me at Hello – The Importance of a Mission Statement

I have always love Jerry Maguire the movie. While the story line is somewhat simple there are plenty of management thoughts that are very mesmerizing. A lot of things could be learnt from it especially when you are at ground zero.

It all started by a mission statement from Jerry Maguire that got him booted out from his company. A mission statement is a brief description of a company’s fundamental purpose, generally answering “Why do we exist?”

All mission statements will “broadly describe an organization’s present capabilities, customer focus, activities, and business makeup” (Glossary, Strategic Management: Concepts and Cases).

Every business should have a mission statement, both as a way of ensuring that everyone in the organization is “on the same page” and to serve as a baseline for effective business planning. (See Quick-Start Business Planning.)

“Many companies have created mission statements for their companies. These are, by design, high level, strategic visions of what the company is or should be. You need to find out if your company has one and, if so, what it is. You need to find out what it means. You need to find out how your part of the organization is supposed to help accomplish that mission.” (Source: http://management.about.com)

Mission Statements develop goals. It created the desired outcomes, the roll out plans and how these outcomes will be measured.

A good mission statement focuses your energy and clarifies your purpose. It is means to attract people and resources.

I have always like Microsoft’s mission statement. It states as follows:

“Accessibility makes it easier for anyone to see, hear, and use a computer, and to customize their computing environment according to their own preferences, needs, and abilities. For many people, accessibility is what makes computer use possible.

At Microsoft, our mission is to enable people and businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential. We consider our mission statement a promise to our customers. We deliver on that promise by striving to create technology that is accessible to everyone—including people who experience the world in different ways because of impairments and disabilities.

Microsoft takes a strategic approach to accessibility by:

  • Continuing our longstanding commitment and leadership in accessibility research, awareness, and innovation.
  • Making the computer easier to see, hear, and use by building accessibility features into Microsoft products.
  • Ensuring that Windows is the best platform for accessibility innovation for assistive technology (AT) manufacturers; and, enabling our AT vendors to provide Windows users with a wide array of quality products.
  • Building strong, collaborative relationships with key government agencies and organizations that advocate on behalf of people with disabilities.” (Source: http://www.microsoft.com)

I thought that was superb.

To reiterate the above, mission statement is to describe what the company values are, what they do, and who they serve. It is not a slogan but a good slogan can be derived from a good mission statement.

I am always intrigued by good mission statements. But I have also seen companies with good mission statements stop at having it documented only. Not at all that they bother to practice what they preach. This poignant attitude has always brought the company down. Year in, year out executives will sit at annual planning sessions bitching about how to move forward when they really do not understand the mission statement as put by the company.

Mission statements are the greetings of a company. As lovers do, the staff will also always have them at hello.

Cheers..

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