Mission statements can be an important organizing principle for companies and their departments. The challenge is making them memorable. Most mission statements are printed, mounted and displayed, promptly to be forgotten. It doesn't need to be this way. True, a number of key questions ought to be answered by a mission statement. These tend to make it detailed, which is necessary in order to be specific.
What we recommend, is to develop a mission statement in response to a series of questions, starting with a simple one.
1. If you were writing an advertisement for your business, what would the buy-line be? In other words, what is the one short, to-the-point statement that says what your company or department is all about?
2. What type of product or service does your business provide?
For example, Delta Airlines: "We love to fly and it shows". Avis: "We're number two; we try harder." Apple: "The machine for the rest of us." Rolaids: "How do you spell relief?"
These familiar lines make the memorable statement that makes the point. A creative, humorous phrase is perfect. It ought to be the first sentence of a mission statement.
3. How is this product provided? In what fashion is it delivered?
For example, "leisure time products" or "market information"
4. To whom do you provide this product? Who are your primary markets?
Attached are some examples of mission statements written with some of these points in mind. They all can use some improvement. How would you rewrite them?
For example, "the highest quality" or "the lowest cost provider"
Investment information for the individual. Our mission is to be the market and technical leader in broadcasting time-sensitive, investment-related data services to individual investors, traders and corporate executives using PC's and hand held devices.
[This mission statement was followed by a two-column table elaborating what each phrase in the mission statement meant, and what is was not.]
Hot software, on today's hardware. Our mission is to develop software that results in increased sales and savings through continually enhanced product upgrades, innovative new products, and internal applications and systems, that are of high reliability, based on our agreed upon customer and target market needs, on schedule, within budget, bug-free, and that squeeze the maximum productivity and efficiency out of our existing in-house and customer hardware investment.
We will strive to be the best operations department in our industry delivering accurate, reliable and timely market data and service to our customers. Our efforts will be characterized by teamwork and "extra-mile" service that is distinctive in our industry. We will be known for implementing creative, pragmatic and solutions aimed at preventing down-time and providing fast, transparent recovery during the rare occasions when outages do occur. Our technical and product improvements will also be implemented transparently, and will improve the productivity of our hardware investments. We will use an "open book" policy to keep our external and internal customers informed in ways that exceed their expectations. And our network, systems and service ever improve to become such clear benefits that they enhance the sales of our products.
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