Mission, Vision, Goals, and Milton Friedman

in Mission

Recently, economist Milton Friedman has been receiving a lot of bad press. Recent economic events have led some to opine that his free market philosophy is wrong. In one of the many ezines I receive, an author said that Friedman's comments in a 1970 New York Times article titled "The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits" was being disproved. His "proof" was a single survey of people born between 1979 and 2001, so-called "millennials" who like to give their business to companies they feel are socially responsible. If that age group is your market niche, fine, but it's hardly an accurate world, or even national, sample. It does; however, illustrate a danger of mixing up the mission and values. If that ezine author had read all the way to the end of Mr. Friedman's article, he would have found this in the final sentence: "there is one and only one social responsibility of business - to use it resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud."

Any organization that wants to succeed, must define in whatit wishes to succeed. That is the mission statement. The organization, whether a business or a non-profit entity, must define what it's going to do in a brief, succinct statement. This statement should not include howthe mission is to be done. That's what the rest of the strategic plan is for. When I see mission statements that include how the mission should be accomplished, I ask if the organization is willing to sacrifice profits or accept losses in order to accomplish the mission as they have stated it. That question would not be relevant for a well crafted mission statement.

But, you say, it's important these days to have a social conscience. Okay fine. That's what the values are all about. When you define your organization's values, you begin to define how you will accomplish the mission. Notice the last part of Friedman's sentence. He points out that increasing profit must be done within the rules and without deception or fraud. When you define your organization's values, you are setting the tone for accomplishing the mission within behavioral boundaries which the leadership feels is acceptable.

The values become the foundation for the organization's goals. This is where the desire to accomplish specific things such as a reduction in emissions or energy use is explicitly stated. If you have a properly written and deployed strategic plan, these goals now become the responsibility of an individual and can be tracked.

In 1925, President Calvin Coolidge stated that "The chief business of the American people is business." I don't know how he felt about strategic planning, but he certainly created a pretty good mission statement. The point of all this is that you can't accomplish any social good, if you don't have a successful organization in the first place. It is essential that all organizational leaders have a clear view of whatthe organization is supposed to accomplish. Howthat will be accomplished is important too, but irrelevant if whatis not first clearly defined.

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Bob Mason has 1 articles online

Bob Mason is a speaker, trainer, facilitator and president of RLM Planning and Leadership, a consulting firm dedicated to helping businesses meld smart strategic planning with leadership excellence. To receive his newsletter with this review and other articles, go to http://www.planleadexcel.com/tinc?key=TDbJOb7x®istrationFormID=64197, or visit his website at http://www.planleadexcel.com

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Mission, Vision, Goals, and Milton Friedman

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This article was published on 2010/04/03