I’ve done hundreds of mission statements for myself and clients. In the beginning my mission statements were too complicated, long and hard to understand. After years of not using mission statements because no one could understand them I finally got it right.
I found a way to write a mission statement that is easily used and integrated in everything you do.
In case you’re interested, the mission for AskJoshPatrick is to help private business owners create a sustainable business. If you want to learn how I came up with this mission statement, read on.
Let’s start with a definition of what has to be in a good mission statement.
A good mission statement has two parts to it. It has to be a short statement about what your company does and it has to be able to be answered with a yes or a no.
The yes or no is to tell you whether you’re moving towards fulfilling your mission or not. It’s a great way to tell you and all who work with you whether you’re doing the right things.
Always start with values.
When you develop a mission statement start with the values your company holds dear. I recommend that you make sure you pay attention to what your personal values are as you examine your company values.
You’ll likely come up with a list that has 10 to 20 values to consider. From this list you want to reduce your value list to no more than five and all five must be only be core values.
You’ll do this by labeling all of your values on your list. The four labels you’ll use are:
- Core values – a value that exists in your company and is core to your success.
- Aspirational values – A value that you would like to have in your company but doesn’t exist today.
- Permission to play values – A value that exists most of the time but there are times you let that value go.
- Accidental values – Values that have made it into your company culture but you would rather not have the value be part of your company.
(Thanks to Patrick Lencioni for creating the four values.)
Your next step
Now that you have identified five core values you can start putting together short sentences that bring your company’s core values to life.
For example, in my company our core values are personal responsibility, simplification, honesty, creativity and wisdom. When I look at these values it’s easy for me to make the jump to helping private business owners create a sustainable business.
If I’m going to be successful in doing this I must do the following things:
- I must be personally responsible for how the engagement goes.
- I have to make it simple or needed changes will never be adopted.
- If I’m not honest and authentic, you won’t believe anything I say.
- I always have to be creative in what works for each client by treating each client as a unique individual.
- Using my 40 years of experience and taking the wisdom I’ve learned helps create a great outcome.
Make sure you mission statement has movement in it.
A great mission statement always has movement. It must be active and it must have a way for you to know whether you’re fulfilling your mission or not.
Here are some of the mission statements I’ve used in companies I’m involved with:
- Providing quality food service at a reasonable price.
- Helping to make our clients lives better.
- Helping private business owners create a sustainable business.
- Doing interesting things with interesting people – My personal mission statement.
When you look at the above mission statements you’ll see that all of them have movement and all have a value system behind them and all of them are less than ten words long. It’s also easy to figure out whether I’m fulfilling the mission or not.
Be willing to experiment.
While you’re creating a mission statement make sure you’re willing to try all sorts of statements out.
If you find that your mission statement starts to describe the activities your company does, then it’s not a good one. For example, if your mission statement starts to sound like we bring you the best food you ever ate, you’re describing what you do and not what your company is about. If you find that your mission statement can’t be answered with a yes or a no, keep working.
They key here is to think about how your mission statement will be used. You want to make it easy to integrate in all parts of your business. In short order you’ll be able to ask anyone in your company what the company mission is and everyone will be able to correctly tell you what it is.
Make sure your mission statement can be used by all of your stakeholders.
This is key. Your mission will definitely be used by the company. It’ll be used by all of your employees when they think about whether they’re doing a good job. It’ll be used by your suppliers when they think about the types of products they should be selling you. It’ll be used by your advisors when they provide advice to you.
Most importantly, your mission statement will be used by you. You’ll use it to examine whether your company is true to your values. You’ll use it to examine whether your outside advisors are helping you make your company better. You’ll uses it to figure out whether you have the right people in your company.
If your mission statement can’t be used by all your stakeholders, keep working. It’s really a pretty simple process. Just ask yourself how each stakeholder group can rally around your mission to make your company better and ultimately sustainable.
Here’s your next steps.
All of this should take you no longer than one hour. I’ve done over one hundred mission statements with people and it’s never taken me even close to an hour. It’s not rocket science, but having a clear and compelling mission will make your business better.
Now that you have a mission statement, your next step is to integrate your mission into every area of your company. Just sit down with your senior management team and help them think about how they’ll use the mission statement in daily conversations at least five times per day.
Like all habits, it’s going to take a while to put this one in place. You’ll need to be persistent in asking those who report to you how they’ve used the mission statement every day. In a short amount of time you’ll find that people start thinking about their behavior at your company in ways that make your company a better place to work and one that’s better to do business with and ultimately more sustainable.
How does that sound?
Why don’t you click here and send me an email with what you’ve decided your company mission will be? I promise you I’ll respond personally to all the emails you send.