Safety Last: Mission Statements that Motivate

May 19, 2010 § Leave a comment


It’s a business cliche – the benign, committee-composed, sanitized, safe, yawn-fest of a mission statement that seems to propagate across so many organizations. It usually goes something like this: “Our mission is to be the respected leader in our industry by serving our customers with integrity and best-in-class service.” Huh? Okay, it is safe, but If your mission statement sounds like it could have popped out of a random mission statement generator then you’ve missed the point, and an important opportunity.

If there is no actual mission in the mission statement then it isn’t really important, is it? It isn’t going to magically motivate anyone or clarify any employee’s judgment when faced with a decision. How does “dedication to serving excellence” help any CEO map out strategy? What kind of compass is “aspiring to world-class performance” when you’re trying to set direction for a company culture and brand?

Hit the dictionary and you’ll come up with mission = “a specific task with which a person or a group is charged”. Now that sounds simple enough. It doesn’t mention safety. It doesn’t mention committee-think or not offending anybody. It does say specific – I like that.

So rather than harp on about how to write a mission statement I’m just going to offer up a few I’d love to encounter in the wild:

1) Our mission is to take our clients’ businesses from $1 million in revenue to $10 million in revenue – then introduce them to people who can take them further.

2) We are dedicated to cleaning up other people’s ecological messes in a profitable way without dumping our garbage in anyone else’s lawn.

3) Our company’s purpose is to build lawnmowers that make you want to mow the neighbor’s lawn too.

4) Our mission is to get customers from point A to point B, efficiently and safely, without ever forgetting they are people, not freight.

5) We are here to lovingly build furniture that your great-grandchildren will fight over.

6) Our mission is to brighten the world with lights that use less energy.

7) Our mission used to be to make household products that make life better for homemakers, now that we’re big we’ve amended that to also make life better for our employees, our communities and our planet.

8) We were put on this earth to design shoes that make you feel sexy.

9) Writing elegant software that makes your job more fun is our mission.

10) Our mission is to make beautiful kites so that more people look up at the sky and smile.

Got a mission statement that doesn’t play it safe?
What’s the most specific, riskiest, or useful mission statement you’ve encountered?

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