Featured Whistler Question newspaper column, July 25, 2017: How To Write A Mission Statement That Matters
You’ve heard of Mark Zuckerberg, right? You know – the guy who co-founded Facebook, transformed media and is currently ranked by Forbes as the fifth richest person in the world with a net worth of approximately US $63.3 billion.
Zuckerberg recently made headlines when announcing in a very long letter (over 5,800 words) that Facebook has updated its mission statement for the first time since it came on the scene in 2004.
Facebook’s previous mission was: “To give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.” In the aforementioned letter, Zuckerberg acknowledged the ‘severe shortcomings’ that this mission created and claims that going forward, Facebook will consider what happens after it connects people — and try to manage those effects for the better. “In times like these,” Zuckerberg wrote, “the most important thing we at Facebook can do is develop the social infrastructure to give people the power to build a global community that works for all of us.” To that end, Facebook’s new mission is “to bring the world closer together.”
Is Your Mission Statement Still Meaningful?
With changing times, it’s important to ensure your organization’s mission accomplishes what it is supposed to, and than means defining your company’s goals, ethics, culture and norms for decision-making. Furthermore, it should define a company’s goals in three dimensions: what the company does for its customers, what it does for its employees, and what it does for its owners. Some of the best mission statements also include fourth and fifth dimensions: what the company does for its community, and for the world.
A mission statement is often met with confusion as to how long it should be. In the case of Facebook and other well-known organizations, they can articulate their mission statement in one sentence. That is encouraged for all organizations because it should roll off your tongue.
However, a longer directional mission statement is a great tool to communicate fundamental business objectives in a paragraph or two. If you read the whole thing out loud, it takes about 30 seconds.
Here’s How to Craft Your Mission Statement
Here are questions to kick-start the process of crafting a mission statement.
- Why are you in business? What spark ignited your decision to start a business? Your mission should capture that inspiration, as well as the essence of your business’s goals and the philosophies underlying them.
- Who are your customers? What can you do for them that will contribute to their success? What are their pain points and how do you help solve them?
- What image of your business do you want to convey? Your mission statement should signal what your business is all about to your customers, suppliers, employees and the community.
- What are your products and services? And specifically, what benefits do they offer to your customers?
- What level of service do you provide? Most companies believe they offer “the best service available”, but don’t be vague; define what makes your service so extraordinary.
- How do you differ from your competitors? What do you do better, cheaper or faster than other competitors?
Once you’ve crafted a meaningful mission statement, review it often and revise as needed. Your mission must stay current to the changing business environment. Just ask Mark Zuckerberg. It’s not a coincidence that Facebook changed its mission amidst the proliferation of ‘fake news’, live broadcasts of murders and a number of other hot topic issues.
I’D LOVE FOR YOU TO: share your mission statement with me!
At Lighthouse Visionary Strategies, Cathy Goddard offers business and life coaching, workshops and is the founder of Lighthouse Mentor Network, a mentor program nominated for Small Business BC Awards for 5 consecutive years. Learn more at www.lighthousevisionary.com