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Mission statements can be fraught with problems but one I came across the other day wins an award for the worst I have ever seen.

What sort of organisation do you think this mission statement comes from?

  • Welcome to (Our company) and a team that’s passionate about creativity, your ideas and generating innovative solutions with flair, impact and individuality that provides real benefits for your business.
  • With a philosophy driven by meeting every challenge, our dedication to realising your vision will exceed expectations in every way. We’ll make the experience of working with us a pleasure, building strong relationships by consistently delivering the exceptional standards upon which our reputation is based.
  • Backed by the skills and extensive resources of our team, a personal co-ordinator will work with you throughout your relationship with us. You’ll get just the right balance of help, guidance and support, adding value at every opportunity and ensuring the outstanding service you receive matches your requirements in every way.

It is actually from a Spa and conference centre. Can you believe that? I deny anyone to work that out. Frankly, an easier question would be, what sort of organisation would it not apply to. I have a suspicion that this one came about by from cobbling together all the mission statements left on flip charts by every company that has ever visited the place for a strategy away day.

Even as a consultant I have to be astonished by the jargon, buzz words and management speak that this contains. Its astonishing.

If you want to understand the difference between Mission, Vision and Purpose this will make it clear for you.

Making a mission statement more useful

In Communicating Strategy I explain where many mission statements go wrong and how to state them in a way that is far more useful. Here are some simple tips:

1) Make it clear what industry you are in, who you serve and why you want to help them.

2) What is your purpose. In this case I suspect it is either for people to feel special and pampered (the spa) or provide an conference experience where they can relax and achieve their conference’s objectives.

3) Be specific about where you actually add value. I don’t want innovation when people serve coffee (no cocktail bar jugglers please). I just want nice coffee and biscuits served by someone I don’t notice. Serving coffee should be seen as a core capability not a “Challenge”.

4) Be honest. Do the staff believe this? Do they even remember it? Can they think to themselves, am I carrying this out the organisation’s mission? I doubt it with this one.  How to write a memorable mission or vision statement.

5) Your customers should relate to it. It should mean something to them and their business so they feel that you will relate to them (unlike this one)

Most importantly the statement should really reflect the purpose of the organisation and the journey you will take to achieve it. Otherwise, why have one?

Phil Jones
Author Communicating Strategy