Wow There it hangs, neatly shined, properly matted and encased in ornate framing suitable for a Vatican art collection: the corporate mission statement, created by the best wordsmiths in the business. This statement, portrayed clearly at the entrance of corporate headquarters, delivers to all who enter a message about the importance of customer excellence, the promise of strategic vision and the desire for social consciousness. Unknown to most executives at the helm of organizations is mission statement should be the genesis of their competitive advantage.
Most mission statements are pieced together as a public relations strategy, a commercial. Yet, mission statements should be conceived and crafted by the collective minds of the CEO, president and other key company leaders after objectives and strategic goals have been established and everyone in the organization has been informed of them. The ability to effectively communicate the “vision” is what sets leaders apart from mere managers.
Generally, the mission statement is developed in reaction to market trends or changing cultural philosophies, with not much input from executive management. Also, it’s not always properly communicated: From front-line receptionists to managerial staffing, in many cases it appears that the mission statement was not conveyed to all hands on deck. Multimillion-dollar customers are greeted without a smile from the front-desk receptionist, executive phone calls go to voicemail due to a lethargic executive administrator, and important client meetings are delayed well beyond the scheduled appointment time.
Envisioning a problem-free Utopian corporate environment is not the purpose of this article. But it is vision alignment and empowerment to all employees to understand and carry out this vision to increase competitive advantage. You would never write a forward for a business book without knowing the author or reading the content. It would dramatically tarnish your image if the concepts in the book were not in alignment with your own principles and values.
The same applies to the mission statement. You can’t craft the statement until the vision and strategies have been established by the CEO and top-line executives and have been communicated through the entire organization. This approach not only prevents mixed messaging, but also aligns and establishes a clear and concise business plan that will drive and increase your competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Secondly, this vision needs to be shared with all employees in order to set goals, as well as establishing a culture of inclusiveness and performance expectations. When there is a shared vision of purpose throughout the workforce, this leads to a culture of teamwork at all levels, rather than one of a supporting cast with no leading roles. As Jeff Tobe, international professional speaker and author, states in his book Coloring Outside the Lines, “The road ahead calls for the leaders to oversee the dismantling of old truths and to prepare people and organizations to deal with, embrace and to thrive from change as innovations are proposed, tested, modified – sometimes rejected – and then assimilated.”
The Mission Statement also should promote a philosophy of social consciousness and awareness that transmits a polished image of care and responsiveness to the needs of the local and global community. When the short- and long-term strategic goals are established with vision, direction and purpose, this will result in a mission statement that’s more then mere words.
To successfully craft an effective mission statement for the learning function or the entire enterprise, the following steps should be taken:
1. Know your brand, your products and services, and what you want your organization to achieve.
2. Architect your blueprint for strategy and goal attainment.
3. Implement a commitment and concern for employees and external customers.
4. Express social consciousness and commitment to the communities where you conduct business.
5. Most importantly, say what you mean and do what you say.
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