08 Apr The Mission Statement: Useful Management Tool Or Tired Old Claptrap?
There are some in management, not many, but some, who live and breathe the notion of the Mission Statement. These people tend to be almost evangelical about it, preaching the gospel and importance of having one. More than that, they let everyone who will listen know what their company’s Mission Statement is, and why it’s wonderful.
There is another, much larger group, that wonders what all the fuss is about. Count me in on that second group, please.
Get Rid of the Fluff
I suspect that the Mission Statement’s origins come from about the same place that an individual’s “Objective” statement come from. Someone, some paid-per-engagement seminar organizer somewhere, probably told a group of people that they needed one. That it was absolutely essential, and that magically, by writing this statement down, the Heavens would open, Angels would weep, and they (the company, in the case of the Mission Statement), and the prospective job seeker in the case of the “Objectives” statement) would find overflowing abundance. Wealth and success beyond measure.
They both seem like the kind of fluffy, cheer-leading behaviors that tend to happen at business and personal development seminars like that, but the long and the short of it is that where they came from doesn’t really matter. They’re noise. They take up space. The few people who actually care about them are either a) paid to do so as a function of their job in the company, or b) eager to focus on something other than the things that make the company successful.
Do I Hear Protest?
I can already hear the howls of protest from those who swear by their Corporate Mission Statement. How I’ve got it all wrong, and the reality is that by writing the Mission Statement down, you focus the company like a laser around the values that are embodied and enshrined in the Mission Statement. The reality, however, is that you don’t.
If you want your company’s values to drive the company, then you make that happen by living them. You make that happen by executing, not by writing them down and having all new employees rigorously memorize and repeat them back like some kind of mantra. “Corporate values” is a meaningless phrase, as Corporations don’t have values. Corporations make things and provide services at a profit. That’s all.
It’s About Doing a Good Job
There’s a right way and a wrong way to do those things, but the rightness and wrongness don’t vary from company to company. Values are values. Honesty, quality, and integrity are, or should be, universal. There’s no need for each company on the planet to find its own unique way to spin the phrasing in order to feel good about itself. Much more compelling and illustrative is to simply conduct your business in accordance with those universal values, make a good product and stand by your work.
When something breaks, fix it. When your company does something wrong, you make it right. You don’t need a fancy slogan, which you paid far too much money to have written, in order to do those things. You simply need to do them. Right?
Count me in with the “Claptrap” crowd. I have yet to hear a compelling argument in favor of the Mission Statement. Actions speak louder than words. Make your actions your “Mission Statement” if you feel you must have one.