Why is it that senior living/long term care organizations spend ridiculous amounts of money paying “experts” to create mission statements for them that are similar to the competitors down the street?

I guess it would make sense if this investment actually made a difference.  However, if you ask most employees what their mission statement is, I suspect only one percent of the organization could recite the mission statement accurately – and I hope one of those would be the marketing director! Perhaps it’s not important?

What if most employees “generally” understood the mission of their organization, would that be good enough?

Is A General Understanding Good Enough?

I’m sitting in an airport while I write this article, which leads me to wonder if we as consumers would find it acceptable if our airline pilots had a “general” understanding of aviation? I’m pretty sure that this would NOT be good enough for any of us, especially those of us who are frequent fliers! We expect the people we buy products and services from to have a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of their business. But the sad reality is that this isn’t always the case.

Does Your Team Know Why Your Organization Exists?

When we don’t understand the reason our organizations exist, we create our own explanations. Multiple perspectives and conclusions yield many people going in different directions. Executives often wonder why departments or areas become territorial, or competitive with one another. This inevitably creates ongoing tension and confusion among employees. Certainly, there are numerous inputs that result in poor organizational outcomes, but I say, it starts with the mission statement. If we don’t have a clear and concise mission that everyone can understand and rally around, we will inevitably breed chaos.

Can You Tweet Your Mission Statement (140 Characters)

The mission statement should be tweetable.  I’m not sure who first said this but I read it once and thought how true.

I love all the KISS books that have been written over the years. If you are unfamiliar with the slang, it stands for “keep it simple stupid.” So why don’t we simplify our mission statements? Wouldn’t they be easier for our employees to remember?

I once worked for an organization that had a one-sentence mission statement but sadly I never could remember the full sentence . . . and I was the chief operating officer! What I did remember was a phrase we used all the time, “embrace living.”  This is what resonated throughout our organization and, in retrospect, I realize that it should have been our mission statement.

The national Alzheimer’s Association has figured out how to be succinct with its vision statement:  “A world without Alzheimer’s.” They also have a one-sentence mission statement, which is great, but wouldn’t it be simpler if their mission statement was their vision statement?

What You Do and Why You Do It

I’m well aware that a mission statement is supposed to convey what you do, who you do it for, and how you do it. However, I say, enough with conventional wisdom, let’s get practical.

If the large majority of working adults are unaware of their organizational mission statement then WHY do we bother creating them? Sadly, we invest hours and dollars developing “new and improved” mission statements, followed by creating new marketing materials that are equally expensive.

All of this effort has little impact on the organization.

In an era of focusing on outcomes why aren’t we assessing everything we do for the value it brings or fails to bring to our organizations? New times require new perspectives. If you want an effective organization, start with an effective mission statement — something that is easy to state, easy to remember, and easy to understand.  Hence, a “tweetable” mission statement – Yes!

How about sharing your current mission statement in the comment area below?  Would you dare?