Mission Needs A Goal

Your mission is what you do every day. Where the vision statement dares to dream, the mission statement is direct and tactical. Unfortunately, so many organizations make a hash of the two. They waste days and months arguing over replaceable weasel words. Avoid this. Combine the two into a single Big Hairy Audacious Goal statement, and give your team a vivid and exciting dream to chase.

The mission statement tells employee and customer alike, what value will we deliver every day through our products and services. It answers the question, how will we achieve our vision? Let’s look at what can come out of a rigorous group effort to define one.

Guided by relentless focus on our five imperatives, we will constantly strive to implement the critical initiatives required to achieve our vision. In doing this, we will deliver operational excellence in every corner of the Company and meet or exceed our commitments to the many constituencies we serve. All of our long-term strategies and short-term actions will be molded by a set of core values that are shared by each and every associate.

Yikes. An epically bad statement such as this one takes an enormous number of staff hours to complete. Only a very large Fortune 500 company can afford such waste to produce so little value. Startups and fast growing companies don’t have time for this. Even if tempted to use a free mission statement generator (Laughing Buddha, Corporate B.S Generator, or MSG, bureaucratese has no value in any business.

Better to write one Big Hairy Audacious Goal statement that combines a vision of the future with the reality of your product. You want something like this powerful, unique statement from Twitter,

give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly without barriers

or this one from Google,

Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

How can you get the benefits of writing your own statement without messing it up? Here are five simple steps.

  1. Identify your best writer, and give that person the job of mission journalist.
  2. Have the writer interview employees and customers, and listen carefully to the answers. This person will pose who, what, why questions to the people who build and use your products. Sources like The One Page Business Plan, Co.Design, Fast Company, and Entrepreneur) offer particular queries that can uncover everything you need to know about what makes you great.
  3. Have the writer craft a finished statement in the form of a Big Hairy Audacious Goal. Ask them to keep it short and use powerful, vibrant words. Each element of the mission must count.
  4. Share the statement with the team. Let it resonate in their minds. Capture their response through both survey, and unsolicited comments.
  5. Acknowledge and respect the team’s feedback with a deliberate, careful revision, and move forward.

In summary, let your staff and customers tell you what makes your company special. Find the common thread and turn it into a Big Hairy Audacious Goal. Amplify it with high quality, exuberant writing. Then post it where everyone can see.

Stewart Noyce writes and presents on innovation strategy, a passion he has fed over a multi-decade career. He continues to accept intense, hands-on product management consulting assignments on new product teams. Visit TruNorth Consulting for more details.
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