There are few topics in strategic planning that generate such diverse and strong opinions as what should be in a mission statement. The statements vary from one-line slogans to multi-page documents.
There are few activities that can become such as waste of time as extensive discussions about what words should be in a mission statement — perhaps planners should spend more time identifying external and internal trends and then what to do about them, than discussing at length what words should be in their mission statements.
One o the best ways to efficiently write a mission statement, and yet leave time and energy for the rest of the important planning process, is to establish certain criteria that the mission statement should meet. Then, after an hour or two of discussing the mission, a subgroup could draft a mission statement that meets the criteria.
Some Proposed Criteria for a Mission Statement
- Is clearly understandable by people internal and external to the organization (strong requirement)
- Succinctly describes the purpose of the organization (strong requirement)
- Succinctly describes the overall type(s) of customers/client served by the organization (strong requirement)
- Provides sufficient focus and direction that Board members and employees can reference the mission when making major decisions (strong requirement)
- Succinctly describes the particular customer/client needs and wants to be met the organization (recommended)
- Mentions the particular results (new knowledge, skills and/or conditions) that the organization tries to help its customers/clients to achieve (recommended)
- Differentiates the organization from other organizations in the area (recommended)
- Conveys strong public image (recommended)
- Mentions the locale in which the organization operates (optional)
- Mentions any particular strengths and opportunities identified during the strategic planning’s external and internal analysis (optional)
What do you think?