Many organizations, big and small, often lose track of their original purpose and mission. And they don’t realize how important it is to keep the mission current. It may seem obvious, but not every organization thinks about these things, for many reasons. We get caught up in the day-to-day of providing products or services. It is easy to lose sight of why we are doing what we do. We push off thinking about our organization’s mission, because that mission may have evolved over time. There may be disagreement as to the proper direction we should go. The original founders of the organization may no longer be active. Often we simply don’t realize how valuable it is to have a mission, so we don’t make it a priority to develop one.
The Value of the Mission
Here are some basic reasons to develop or refine a mission statement:
- Clarity of purpose. Human beings crave clarity – we like to know why we come to work every day. Sometimes it is not so clear.
- Our special market niche. Having a set mission will help identify the specific marketplace and customers we are currently serving. With change being a constant, it is valuable to take stock of where we are now. Our market may be segmented or different than the one we served five years ago. Refining our mission is common, and it helps us properly focus on the market we can best serve now.
- Roles for staff and plans for technology. As we evolve, we need to figure out how to best plan our staffing needs and how to leverage cutting-edge technology.
- A great motivator for staff. There is no better motivator than facilitating the training exercise of articulating the organization’s mission. It is the real reason we get pumped up every day. It is a participatory exercise that requires several hours of collaborative thought and discussion.
- Planning for the future. By focusing on our mission every couple of years, we can modify the resources we need to achieve our mission and plan for the future.
Developing the Mission
- Get the staff involved. It is one of the few areas where everyone on staff will want to weigh in. The exercise is very healthy and forward-thinking. Employees will feel valued by participating in this journey.
- Spend a few hours. It may look easy but developing a mission requires an investment of time and energy. As employers grow and customers’/clients’ needs change, the mission matures.
- Underlying Philosophy. Include a healthy discussion of the business values that guide the enterprise – such as a unique business model, ethical values, promptness of service, high standards of deliverables, etc.
- The Statement. The mission statement is typically very short – just a few sentences. But it encompasses the organization’s heart and soul.
- A better focus. Employees will focus on exactly what it takes to accomplish their (new) mission.
- Publish the mission. Communicate the final mission statement to new and current staff and to your customers/clients. Place it in your organization’s literature, such as employee handbooks and public relations material. It will help you recruit smart, motivated staff, and it will distinguish you from other organizations.
- The road ahead. You will be perceived in the marketplace as a very classy organization with admirable, yet achievable goals. And you will improve your planning and management, develop a more cohesive, highly motivated staff, and renew your sense of purpose and direction.