You go to a company’s website and on the “About Us” page there is almost always a Mission Statement. It feels like a somewhat squishy PR stunt that the board came up with for when they need to talk to their shareholders.
You vow you will never waste time on such falderal.
I’ve had that thought, but after consideration and experience, I’ve become an avid fan of mission statements. Let me explain why.
Mission Statements Force Purpose
Not all mission statements are created equal, so I’m not advocating for a brainless exercise in marketing. However, the act of identifying a mission statement does usually force a conversation about purpose.
It doesn’t matter at what level you’re having the conversation (personal, team, department, organization). For a mission statement to exist, you must ask the question “why?”
Why are we here? Why is the group getting funded? Why am I spending time on this activity?
Wading through the mire of why, you will begin to understand your purpose. Your purpose is what motivates activity (surprise -- it isn’t just that bonus money!) Without purpose, humans cannot thrive.
If after all the digging you cannot find a purpose, then you should abandon the effort altogether.
Mission Statements Create Cohesion Among Groups
Perhaps you don’t feel like defining the purpose is relevant. As long as it exists, who cares?
This approach can lead to miscommunication, which hinders the effectiveness of groups. By laying out the specific mission, you invite others to understand why you, and your organization, are here.
Instead of individual purposes creating conflict, you supply a singular purpose. Communication creates understanding, which can propel your organization forward.
If this is a personal mission, you should still work to communicate it to others, as they will be your champions along the way. (For more on why communicating personal "vision" creates opportunity, check out this post.)
Mission Statements Allow for Efficient Decision Making
The options in life are basically endless, but the resources are not. There is a constant struggle of making decisions- prioritizing and reprioritizing effort and time and money. If you do not have clarity around what you are working towards, you will waste a lot of those resources on ineffective or irrelevant items.
The most successful people start from the desired outcomes and work their way backwards in solving problems, creating structures, and making decisions. Arm them, and yourself, with a clear picture around the desired goal, so everyone knows what to aim for.
Not sure how to create a mission and want someone to talk through it with you? Sign up for a session with a Confia coach!