A perfect mission statement is like the perfect country western song. After listening to "You don't have to call me darlin', darlin," David Allen Coe said that it was almost the perfect country western song, but it didn't address mom, prison, trucks, rain, or drinking. You may remember he added one more verse that then added all the missing parts, making it the perfect song.
The perfect country western song includes all the subjects that make up the genre. A perfect mission statement will do the same. The perfect mission statement will tell others who we are, what we do, why we do what we do, where we do it, for whom we do it, and how we do it.
Mission statements provide a framework of guiding principles that allow the organization to make decisions about new programs and evaluate existing ones, as well as being useful when positioning the organization to the public. Mission statements provide the statutes that govern the organization. Programs, actions, policies and communication must not violate the mission. Should a decision be made that is outside of the mission, the mission must be revised.
Do mission statements really make a material difference to success? Consider these real mission statements:
Hershey Foods: "Our mission is to be a focused food company in North America and selected international markets and a leader in every aspect of our business. Our goal is to enhance our #1 position in the North American confectionery market, be the leader in U.S. chocolate-related grocery products, and to build leadership positions in selected international markets." Hershey's profits were up 54% in fourth quarter 2008.
McDonalds: "McDonald's vision is to be the world's best quick service restaurant experience. Being the best means providing outstanding quality, service, cleanliness, and value, so that we make every customer in every restaurant smile." McDonald's profits were up 82% in fourth quarter 2008.
Ford: "We are a global, diverse family with a proud heritage, passionately committed to providing outstanding products and services." Ford, as we know, has experienced huge profitability issues. Contrast their current statement with their 1900-era mission statement, "Our mission is to democratize the automobile."
It's easy to see how important it is to define your mission correctly. If the McDonalds or Hershey mission statements appeared without the corporate name, you might correctly guess their identity. Ford's mission statement doesn't even mention automobiles. Have you written the perfect mission statement? If yours doesn't presently include the content required, you have a great opportunity to refine your statement and enhance the success of your organization.