Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Mission Statements

I was talking to a manager the other day about mission statements. Most are bunk. A great many are posted and wisely forgotten. Many are too academic or verbose.

In my book, it is better to have no mission statement than to have a mediocre one.

Ruling out the ones that I've written for clients - each of those, of course, has the silver-tongued eloquence of Demosthenes - my favorite is that of the Phoenix Fire Department:

Prevent harm - Survive - Be nice

Are there any mission statements that you love?


Anonymous said...

I almost can't believe it, but I work for a company that has a pretty elegant mission statement:

To Care
To Serve
To Educate
To Discover

It is a Academic Medical Center.

I think that an OD type helped to make it happen, then she left soon after since the CEO's "caring" was only skin deep.

Michael Wade said...


I like that and it's easy to remember!

Mark said...

I wonder what happens if you stick an existing SIM card in an unregistered iPhone? Surely someone will try this.


Matt said...

My last company couldn't figure out what problem thier product solved, let alone a mission statement. The book Less is More by Jason Jennings has a nice chapter on how companies make use of a "single big idea" which I think is what a good mission statement should be.

pawnking said...

I'm trying to push for a departmental mission statement. I think we as a department should ask ourselves what we are trying to accomplish and how it relates to the mission statement of the entire company. I'll let you know how it goes.

Michael Wade said...


Less is More is an extremely good book. The "single big idea" approach forces clarification.


Good luck! The exercise itself should be fun and productive.

Mark Also said...

The late and very much lamented BBC Radio 4 "Today" programme presenter, Brian Redhead, once stopped a CEO dead in his tracks with the line "Mission Statements are just silly, aren't they?" (Forgive my memory for any error). Guy Kawasaki is excellent on this topic and urges short mantras rather than bloated MS.

Less is indeed more, and nothing is better, if I can't work out what you're about from what you do then having a banal statement is worse than useless, it's insulting.

Which reminds me of a great front-and-back T-shirt I saw:
Front - "Don't tell me you're a Christian...." Back "...Let me see if I can work that out for myself!"