Time to ditch the Mission Statement?

For many years, the Mission Statement has been part of the corporate communications toolbox.

Managers have been wedded to it, seeing it as a short, simple, easy-to-read composition that would magically portray an organisation as responsible, caring and committed, with determination and resources to serve its various publics to the very highest standards.

Like any promise, the Mission Statement became a manifestation of corporate intent. But, therein lay its fatal flaw – like any promise, Mission Statements are aspirational. They promise ‘jam tomorrow’ whilst often skirting the ‘jam today’ treat that the public craves.

Using terms like ‘strive to be’ and ‘working to provide’ and ‘determined to achieve’ and other vague constructions, Mission Statements generally deliver hope but no salvation.

Is it time, therefore, that managers ditched them and substituted something new that would promote what a company is, not what it hopes to be?

What that something new would be is a Statement of First Principles.

For the majority, ethics and principles are the intangibles that frame our behaviour and guide our lives. Either one has them or one does not. The same is true for business.

A Statement of First Principles is one that would set out the non-negotiable yardsticks by which your enterprise operates, the bedrock that forms its foundation, the elements that, when considered in the round, define the character of your business.

To those entering a relationship with your organisation for whatever reason, it should provide an insight into the type of operation it is. It should be solid, strong and clear…not vague or wishy-washy. It should present a true insight into your business, the ethics and standards that it espouses and the things that make it tick.

In order that those who read it would know and understand, it should be written in language that is unequivocal and devoid of conditions, caveats and qualifications and be sufficiently clear to remove any cloak of doubt that one might have on key issues.