As a follow up to my previous post, the next step after creating a vision statement is to figure out your mission statement. It’s more than just writing it down, it is truly deciding on key components of how you are proceeding with your company. In this post, l will answer the following questions: a) What does the word mission mean? 2) How does this relate to a mission statement? What are the key components to a mission statement? Why is this so important?
What does the word mission mean?
The word mission is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a preestablished and often self-imposed objective or purpose”.
Just like the word vision refers to sight, the word mission speaks to what you are doing. I liken mission to the role of a missionary. That is, someone whose feet are planted firmly on the ground, rolling their sleeves up and getting things done. Action oriented.
How does this relate to a mission statement?
This definition is directly related to what is taking place in a corporation by defining what the objective or purpose is. It provides clarity and focus, giving direction to its employees.
What are the key components to a mission statement?
There are three key components of (or questions answered) a mission statement: 1) Who is doing the work (internal)? 2) What are they doing? 3) Either where are they doing it? or Who is their target audience (external)? Note that a company’s audience may include its customers, stakeholders, or employees.
Why is this important?
When leaders provide a clear vision statement, followed by the mission statement, the company’s role locally, regionally, nationally or internationally become evident. It further helps employees to understand that role and define their own easier.
Example Mission Statements…Breaking It Down
“To deliver information on the people, ideas and technologies changing the world to our community of affluent business decision makers.”
Please take a look at the Forbes mission statement above. It very effectively addresses the three key components. It is implied that as a company, “we” (or in this case “To…”) are in this together. This answers the question about who is going to do this. The phrase “deliver information on the people, ideas and technologies” answers the question of what Forbes is going to do. Lastly, Forbes’ target audience is “our community of affluent business decision makers”.
Again, Forbes has an excellent example of a mission statement.
“To be the catalyst in communities of customers, contributors, and partners creating better technology the open source way.”
Redhat has an interesting mission statement. It may even represent a combination of the company’s vision and mission statements. Let’s take a closer look at Redhat’s mission statement above. Let’s first look at how they answer the who, what, and where questions; the three key components.
As a company, Redhat is the “catalyst” which answers the who or even how they are going to represent themselves as a team. It immediately goes into answering the target audience or demographic and that is, “in communities of customers, contributors, and partners”, essentially the where. And lastly, the what is “creating better technology the open source way”.
There have been three patterns observed in how corporations either write or display its vision and mission statements. One is that some corporations combine its vision with the mission statements such as the example above for Redhat. The second observation is that many companies may display one statement and not the other or display one prominently over the other. The third observation is that some companies either confuse the mission with the vision statements or aren’t clear what they are presenting in the statement itself.
The reason for stating that Redhat’s mission statement may or could be representative of a combination of the vision and mission statements is as follows. If you take the phrase “Creating better technology the open source way”, it aligns with what a typical vision statement includes. Some companies choose to write their corporate statement in this manner. There is no right or wrong answer on which way to present your vision and mission statements, only to ensure they are clear, concise, and comprehensive.
Another pattern is that some companies will only state their mission statement, for example, on its website. Or, they may showcase its mission statement first in larger print with a vision statement at the bottom of the homepage in smaller print. In either case, there may be a clear reason that the company wants to showcase only one or one more prominently than the other. However, no matter what, it is still key to communicate the vision and mission statements internally so that employees and the company itself is on track for success. Again, however it is represented make sure the statement or message that is most important for your audience to see is clearly displayed.
Lastly, and unfortunately, many companies confuse the vision and mission statement with each other. Many times, the philosophy that comes with this is that neither statement is important; this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Consequently, not much time is spent developing an effective vision and mission statements. With my personal experience working at large, well known international companies, each one had clear vision and mission statements that directed the company and its employees. However, vision and mission statements for any size company are key in communicating what you are about to your audiences, both internally and externally.