The third element needed to create a compelling and cohesive organizational vision is the mission statement. After you have clarified why your business exists (purpose) and where you are headed (vision), it is important to understand how you are going to fulfill your purpose and achieve your vision. This is the role of a clear mission statement. Oftentimes, I see the purpose and mission statements being used synonymously. However, these are two distinct statements that serve two different needs for the organization. The mission statement helps clarify what the members of the organization must do daily to achieve the purpose.
In addition to helping achieve the purpose, carrying out the mission statement on a daily basis helps an organization pursue its vision. You see, purpose, vision, and mission statements should all build upon one another and point in the same direction. When they do so, there is a great amount of synergy that takes place because it gives employees a clear sense about the important role that they play within the organization.
While there is no set formula for the mission statement, my recommendation is that it be no longer than one sentence if possible. Like the purpose and vision, the mission must be clear and concise so that employees can easily commit it to memory. If organizational leaders create a mission statement that is a paragraph long, no one will remember it. Also, remember that a mission statement should be the daily driver of action for employees, so it must also be capable of inspiring action.
So if you’re looking to create your mission statement, first look at your purpose and vision statements for guidance. Your mission statement should be the daily commitment that will help achieve the purpose and vision. Then, follow the three C’s when writing the mission statement:
Clear – does it make sense? Would a stranger know what it means?
Concise – it should be stated in a few words—no more than one sentence if possible.
Compelling – the mission should be capable of inspiring action throughout the entire organization.
The mission statement must not only be committed to memory, but the employees of the organization must be committed to putting it into action. After you have articulated the mission, you will be ready for the final piece of the foundation for the organizational vision—the core values. I will discuss this last part in the next post.