What are Mission Statements?
Mission statements answer the question, “Why do we exist?” It gives the organization purpose and meaning and speaks to why people want to work for your company. If you’re a for-profit organization, the fundamental mission of the business is to create shareholder wealth, but that won’t attract anyone to come work for you, and it does not give rise to a bigger corporate purpose.
Every organization needs to define its fundamental purpose, philosophy, and values. The mission statement answers the basic questions of why your company exists and describes the needs your company was created to fulfill. This is not about the products and services you provide; rather, it is about why you provide them. For instance, the mission of AchieveIt is “to help organizations execute smarter, faster, and better.” At AchieveIt, it is about accelerating the results curve. Team Members come to work every day driven by getting more and better results faster — whether for the company or its clients. How we do this is through our software suite and related support services, which are continually being enhanced to drive improved results. But how we accomplish our mission today may be different than how we accomplish it tomorrow. The mission points us in the right direction. Our strategic and operational plans become the road map. Without the guidance of our mission statement, programmatic priorities would be difficult to establish.
The mission statement, therefore, provides the basis for judging the success of an organization and its programs. It helps to verify if the organization is on the right track and making the right decisions. It provides direction when the organization must adapt to new demands. Attention to mission helps the organization adhere to its primary purpose and serves as a touchstone for decision making during times of conflict.
The mission statement can also be used as a tool for resource allocation. A powerful mission statement attracts staff, donors, volunteers, and community involvement.
Even if your organization has a succinct, empowering mission statement, it should be revisited on a regular basis. If your organization conducts strategic planning, the mission statement should be discussed – and even evaluated – at the beginning of every planning cycle. Why? One of the fundamental purposes of strategic planning is to fulfill the mission; revisiting the mission ensures your strategic plan succeeds in that regard. Beyond strategic planning, you should consider revising your mission statement if you answer “no” to any of the follow eight questions:
1. Is it short (10 words or less) and sharply focused? Would it fit on a t-shirt? A bumper sticker? A billboard?
2. Do staff, management, and board members know the mission statement? Is it clear and easily understood?
3. Can you train around it? Does everyone in the organization know exactly how to fulfill the mission every day?
4. Does it define why you do what you do?
5. Does it provide direction for doing the right things?
6. Does it inspire your passion and commitment?
7. Does it say, in the end, what you want to be remembered for?
9. Have you revisited your mission statement in the last three years?
To develop a powerful mission statement, download the white paper entitled, “Mission Statements: A How-To,” which is available in the ShareIt resource library.
Examples are below:
We fulfill dreams through the experiences of motorcycling.
We are dedicated to the highest level of customer service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and company spirit.
To make cancer history.
To organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.
To create, preserve, and disseminate knowledge.
To discover, develop, and deliver innovative medicines that help patients prevail over serious diseases.
To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.