Make it brief and all about your customer and you’ve got yourself a decent mission statement.
Architect Bob Borson.
Sir Richard Branson.
They both have a strong opinion about mission statements.
In a 2014 blog post, Borson wrote:
“I think Mission Statements are silly – particularly if you make them public and part of your marketing strategy.”
I agree about the silly part. Mission statements typically say what every business in the world should be doing: formulating solutions, providing great service, listening to customers, helping them achieve their goals.
Borson’s rules for mission statements:
Rule #1: It’s a mission statement, not a mission novella.
Make it short and to the point.
Rule #2: Keep it private and stop the pandering.
Mission statements exist to focus a company’s efforts when trying to make a decision, or to determine the long-term vision or company direction. Does the public have a say in how you run the business? If the answer is “no” then leave them out of it.
Rule #3: It should be about the future.
Mission statements focus efforts. They shouldn’t be about who you are and what you’ve done. They should be about who you want to become and where you want to go.
Rule #4: Keep it simple and at a high level
Anything else beyond a sentence or two that you think needs to be said should be put into an internal document.
In a 2013 Facebook post, Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group of companies, said that “most mission statements are full of blah truisms and are anything but inspirational.”
“A company’s employees don’t really need to be told that ‘The Mission of XYZ Widgets is to make the best widgets in the world by providing excellent service.’ They must think, “As opposed to what? Making the worst widgets and offering the lousiest service?’”
“Such statements show that management lacks imagination, and perhaps in some cases, direction.”
So what does Branson recommend?
Keep it brief, and “explain your company’s purpose and outline expectations for internal and external clients alike.”
So what do I think?
Keep it short and about what you can do for your customers. If you do, let them know about it.
Some good mission statements:
Amazon: “It’s our goal to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”
Life is Good: “Spreading the power of optimism. Life is not perfect. Life is not easy. Life is good.”
Twitter: “To give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.”
And what are Branson’s and Borson’s mission statements?
Virgin Atlantic: “Our mission statement is simple, yet the foundation of everything we do here at Virgin Atlantic Airways…to embrace the human spirit and let it fly.”
Borson: “Be awesome.”