writing a mission statement

How To Write A Mission Statement That Doesn’t Suck

The Importance of a Mission Statement in Defining a Company’s Purpose

Picture This: You’re a trailblazer, a maverick, a fledgling entrepreneur ready to take the business world by storm. But wait! Before you unleash your brainchild into the wild, let’s talk about the compass that will guide your ship through the tempestuous seas of the business world – The Mission Statement.

The mission statement – a phrase so simple, yet so profound. It’s the heartbeat of your enterprise, the mantra that your business lives and breathes. It’s what makes your company leap out of bed in the morning. It’s your “why” in a world of “what” and “how”. It’s not just a statement; it’s a declaration of your business’s very soul.

A Nod to the Common Pitfalls in Crafting Mission Statements

But beware brave entrepreneur, for the path to crafting a mission statement is strewn with the carcasses of jargon, buzzwords, and committee-speak. Many a noble business has ventured forth with a mission statement that reads like the lovechild of a legal document and a technical manual. And what happens? Their true purpose gets lost in translation.

The Muse for this Article

Enter Dan Heath, a modern-day wordsmith and corporate linguist. In his video, “How to Write a Mission Statement That Doesn’t Suck”, Dan dons the hat of a maestro, conducting an orchestra of words and wisdom. He takes us on a journey through the land of mission statements, pointing out the potholes and showing us how to pave our own path.

This article, my fellow pioneers of the business frontier, is inspired by Dan’s wisdom. We’ll take his insights, add a dash of our own, and cook up a guide that will have you penning a mission statement worthy of the history books.

So, buckle up, grab your quill and parchment, and let’s set sail on the HMS Mission Statement!

The Tragedy of the Common Mission Statement

The Prevalence of Convoluted and Meaningless Mission Statements

Let’s take a stroll down Corporate Lane. What do you see? A cacophony of mission statements, each trying to outdo the other in complexity and verbosity. It’s like a Shakespearean drama where everyone’s forgotten their lines and is making it up as they go. 

The tragedy? These mission statements are more like mission impossibles. They’re convoluted, stuffed with jargon, and as inspiring as a wet blanket.

Imagine a mission statement as a compass. Now, what use is a compass if, instead of a clear arrow, it’s got a convoluted maze on it? Not much, I’d wager.

How Mission Statements Lose Their Soul Through Committee Revisions

Now, let’s peek behind the curtain and see how these Franken-statements are stitched together. Picture a round table, with well-meaning folks from every department. The marketing team wants to add some buzzwords, the legal team wants to make it sound more formal, and before you know it, the mission statement is a hodgepodge of words that not even a dictionary can decipher.

The soul? Oh, it was there in the first draft. But with each revision, a piece of that soul was traded for a synonym, a buzzword, or a clause. And what are we left with? A soulless zombie of a statement that lumbers along, scaring away inspiration.

The Pizza Parlor Tragedy: A Case Study from Dan Heath’s Video

Enter the Pizza Parlor Tragedy, a tale as old as time. Imagine a humble pizza parlor with a simple mission: “To serve the tastiest damn pizza in Wake County.” Ah, the beauty, the clarity, the sheer audacity!

But then, the committee gets their hands on it. “Let’s make it more sophisticated,” they say. “Let’s add some market speak,” they say. And what do we end up with? “Our mission is to leverage the synergies of artisanal ingredients to provide an unparalleled gastronomic experience.”

Where’s the pizza? Where’s the passion? Lost, my friends, in the abyss of overthinking.

So, let’s raise our glasses to the fallen mission statements and vow to keep ours alive, kicking, and full of soul.

Onward, to the land of integrity and simplicity!

The Essence of Integrity

The Significance of Integrity in a Mission Statement

Integrity is the golden thread that weaves through the fabric of your mission statement, giving it strength, purpose, and, dare I say, a touch of class.

Integrity is the North Star that guides your ship through stormy seas. It’s the unwavering commitment to your values, your purpose, and your people. It’s the difference between a mission statement that’s a mere collection of words and one that’s a battle cry for greatness.

How Many Mission Statements are Long on Words but Short on Mission

Now, let’s talk about a phenomenon I like to call “The Great Paradox of Mission Statements.” It’s a curious case where mission statements are as long as a Tolstoy novel but as shallow as a kiddie pool. They’re like a sandwich with all the trimmings but no filling.

Why does this happen? Because in the race to sound impressive, the mission often gets left at the starting line. It’s like dressing up for a marathon and then forgetting to run.

The Johnson & Johnson Credo: A Shining Example from the Video

But fear not, for there is hope! Let’s turn our gaze to a beacon of integrity – The Johnson & Johnson Credo. Our guide, Dan Heath, holds this up as a shining example, and for good reason.

The Credo is a symphony of simplicity and depth. It doesn’t just talk about products; it talks about a sacred responsibility to doctors, nurses, patients, mothers, and fathers. It’s not just a statement; it’s a solemn vow.

And that, my fellow navigators of the business seas, is the essence of integrity. It’s about anchoring your mission statement to the bedrock of your values. It’s about making a promise to the world and then moving heaven and earth to keep it.

So, let’s take a leaf out of Johnson & Johnson’s book and let integrity be the wind in the sails of our mission statements.

Next stop, the art of simplicity!

The Art of Simplicity

The Power of Clear and Concise Language

Let’s strip away the layers and bask in the glorious sunlight of simplicity. Ah, simplicity – the unsung hero of communication. It’s like a breath of fresh air in a smog-filled city. Clear, concise language is the secret sauce that turns a bland mission statement into a gourmet feast for the mind.

Imagine your mission statement as an arrow. The clearer and more concise it is, the sharper the point, and the truer it flies. It pierces through the noise and hits the bullseye of understanding.

The Dangers of Jargon and Overused Buzzwords like “Solution”

Now, let’s talk about the arch-nemesis of simplicity – jargon. Jargon is like that uninvited guest at a party who just won’t leave. And buzzwords? They’re the confetti that gets in your hair and your drink. “Solution” is a prime offender. It’s been used and abused to the point where it’s lost all meaning.

Using jargon and buzzwords is like trying to serenade someone with a kazoo. It’s just not going to have the desired effect. Instead, it creates a fog of confusion that leaves your audience lost and, quite frankly, a little annoyed.

5 Expert Tips on Keeping it Simple and Meaningful

So, how do we wield the mighty sword of simplicity without sacrificing depth? Here are some expert tips:

  1. Be Ruthless with Your Words: If a word doesn’t serve a purpose, give it the boot. Be the Marie Kondo of words – if it doesn’t spark understanding, thank it and let it go.
  2. Speak Human: Write your mission statement as if you’re explaining it to a friend over coffee. If you wouldn’t say it in conversation, don’t put it in your mission statement.
  3. Use Concrete Language: Be specific. Instead of saying you offer “solutions,” say exactly what problems you solve and how.
  4. Test It: Share your mission statement with someone who knows nothing about your business. If they get it, you’ve hit the jackpot.
  5. Look to the Greats: Study mission statements that you admire. What makes them effective? How do they communicate complex ideas simply?

Remember, simplicity is not about dumbing down; it’s about clarifying, refining, and getting to the essence of what you want to say.

So, let’s raise a toast to simplicity – the elixir of effective communication!

Next, we shall venture into the realm of crafting your very own mission statement. Onward!

Crafting Your Mission Statement: A Comprehensive Workshop

Setting the Stage: Understanding Your Company’s Core Values and Goals

Gather round, ye architects of enterprise, for we are about to lay the foundation of your mission statement. Before the quill touches the parchment, we must set the stage. Ask yourself, “What are the core values that pulse through the veins of my company? What goals do we chase with the fervor of a thousand suns?”

These values and goals are the bedrock upon which your mission statement will be built. They are the guiding stars that will navigate your ship through uncharted waters.

The Power of the First Draft: Channeling the Pizza Parlor’s Initial Spirit

With your values and goals in hand, it’s time to unleash the raw, unbridled power of the first draft. Remember the pizza parlor’s initial spirit? Channel that. Let your passion flow through your pen. Don’t worry about polish; this is about capturing the essence.

This first draft is the heart of your mission statement. It’s the spark that will ignite the flame.

The Editing Gauntlet: How to Refine Without Losing Essence

Now, gird your loins, for you are about to run the Editing Gauntlet. This is where you must be both warrior and poet. You must defend the essence of your mission statement while refining its form.

  • Be Ruthless, But Protective: Cut the fluff, but protect the core. Every word must earn its place.
  • Seek Feedback, But Stay True: Listen to others, but don’t let the committee dilute the essence.
  • Refine, But Don’t Overthink: Polish your words, but beware the paralysis of perfection.

The Final Touch: Ensuring Integrity and Simplicity are at the Heart

As you put the final touches on your mission statement, let integrity and simplicity be your watchwords. Your mission statement should be a mirror that reflects your company’s soul.

  1. Check for Integrity: Does it align with your values and goals? Is it a promise you can keep?
  2. Check for Simplicity: Is it clear? Can a stranger understand it at first glance?

10 Steps to Crafting Your Own Mission Statement

  1. Define Your Why: Before you write a word, know your purpose. Why does your company exist? What change do you want to make in the world?
  2. Know Your Values: What are the non-negotiable values that guide your company? Integrity? Innovation? Compassion?
  3. Identify Your Audience: Who are you speaking to? Customers? Employees? The world?
  4. Brainstorm: Let the ideas flow. Don’t worry about getting it right; just get it out.
  5. Write the First Draft: Channel the spirit of the pizza parlor. Be bold. Be raw. Be real.
  6. Edit with Precision: Trim the fat, but protect the heart. Every word must earn its place.
  7. Seek Feedback: Share it with trusted colleagues, friends, or mentors. Listen, but stay true to your vision.
  8. Refine and Polish: Make it shine without losing its soul.
  9. Test It: Can a stranger understand it? Does it resonate?
  10. Launch It: Release it into the world with pride and commitment.

7 Expert Tips and Tricks for Maintaining Originality and Punchiness

  1. Avoid Jargon Like the Plague: If your grandma wouldn’t understand it, ditch it.
  2. Use Powerful Words: Choose words that evoke emotion and action.
  3. Keep It Short and Sweet: A mission statement is a rallying cry, not a novel.
  4. Be Specific: Avoid vague buzzwords. Say what you really do.
  5. Use Metaphors and Analogies: They can turn a good statement into a memorable one.
  6. Don’t Be Afraid to Break the Mold: If you want to stand out, be different.
  7. Live It: A mission statement means nothing if you don’t live it every day.

And with that, my fellow scribes, you will have crafted a mission statement that is not just words on a page, but a clarion call that resonates through the ages.

Go forth, with pen and purpose, and may your mission statement be as mighty as your dreams!

The Mission Statement Hall of Fame

Showcasing Exemplary Mission Statements from Various Industries

Don your finest attire and roll out the red carpet, for we are about to enter the hallowed halls of the Mission Statement Hall of Fame. Here, we shall pay homage to the words that have moved mountains and the companies that have etched their names in the annals of greatness.

1. Tesla: “To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.” 
   – Industry: Automotive & Energy
   – Why It Shines: It’s focused, audacious, and speaks to a higher purpose.

2. Nike: “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world. If you have a body, you are an athlete.”
   – Industry: Apparel & Footwear
   – Why It Shines: It’s inclusive, empowering, and challenges the status quo.

3. TED: “Spread ideas.”
   – Industry: Education & Media
   – Why It Shines: It’s simple, powerful, and speaks to the core of human progress.

4. Southwest Airlines: “To connect people to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel.”
   – Industry: Aviation
   – Why It Shines: It’s personal, reliable, and speaks to the heart.

5. Slack: “To make work life simpler, more pleasant, and more productive.”
   – Industry: Technology
   – Why It Shines: It’s relatable, aspirational, and speaks to everyday challenges.

Analyzing What Makes Them Stand Out

What makes these mission statements worthy of the Hall of Fame? Let’s dissect the magic:

  1. Clarity of Purpose: Each statement is crystal clear. There’s no ambiguity about what the company stands for.
  2. Connection to a Higher Goal: They’re not just about profits; they’re about making a difference in the world.
  3. Simplicity: They don’t hide behind jargon. They speak human.
  4. Inspiration: They inspire. They make you want to join their cause.
  5. Authenticity: They feel genuine. They’re not trying to be something they’re not.

So, let’s raise our glasses to these titans of mission statements. May their words continue to inspire and may their legacies be evergreen.

Final Thoughts

The Importance of a Mission Statement That Resonates and Inspires

As we stand at the precipice of this literary journey, let us take a moment to reflect on the sacred power of a mission statement. It is not just a collection of words; it is the soul of your company etched in ink. It is the battle cry that rallies your troops and the beacon that guides your ship through stormy seas. A mission statement that resonates and inspires is like a heart that pumps lifeblood through the veins of your organization.

A Final Word on the Balance Between Simplicity, Integrity, and Meaning

In the alchemy of crafting a mission statement, three elements are paramount – simplicity, integrity, and meaning. Simplicity ensures that your message is clear. Integrity ensures that your message is true. Meaning ensures that your message matters. Like the three musketeers, they are formidable alone but unstoppable together.

A Call to Action for Readers to Craft Their Mission Statement with Heart

And now the quill is in your hand. You stand at the canvas of destiny, with the colors of your dreams at your fingertips. I beseech you, craft your mission statement with heart. Let it be a tapestry woven with threads of passion, purpose, and promise.

May your mission statement be the wind that fills your sails, the fire that lights your path, and the echo that returns as a legacy.

Go forth, paint your dreams with words, and let them reverberate through the halls of time.

Godspeed, and may your mission statement never suck.

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Article Author

Jackson Cooper

Jackson Cooper

Jackson is a passionate writer on all things entrepreneurship and business. He loves inspiring and helping others achieve their career and business goals through his writing. Jackson is known for his strategic thinking, problem-solving skills, and innovative ideas.
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