Mission is one of those often discussed, somewhat commonly used, and rarely effectively implemented tools of leadership. Every so often you stumble upon a great post on mission, or its twin sister vision. Don’t get me wrong here, they are critical success tools for high performing organizations. Often though, I find ineffective missions to break two “rules” that I think are critical to success.
First, Missions should be concrete. Jack Welch has a great statement in his book, “Winning”, to the effect that mission should be so concrete it slaps you in the face. I love that! We need to stop with all of these mission statements that aren’t measurable, repeatable, or even understandable. If I can’t read your mission as an employee and immediately translate it into action than it’s really not good for much. Secondly, mission should be short and contained enough that it can fit in a Twitter post (140 characters for those who don’t tweet). Now, I have encountered some resistance on this in the past. Here’s the deal, your employees and your customers need to be able to retain the mission. If its to long and drawn out, its not doing anyone any good. My compromise is if your mission just has to be longer than make sure you have a “Twitter version” to share with people. Have a boiled down type of statement that is catchy and people can act upon. Can this be your vision? Yeah, I think it can be, but the preference would be a boiled down version of the mission.
There is a lot that needs to go into mission statement development, which is why this post isn’t titled something like “The Two Keys to Mission Statements”. However, I think even the best mission statement will fall short if it doesn’t have these two characteristics. What have you found to be effective traits for getting people to act upon and internalize mission? Leave some comments here!