Writing a mission statement is challenging for any business leader. How do you condense almost everything your company does into a few sentences?
It's a hard task. But no matter what you end up putting on the page, there are certain steps you can take that will improve your mission statement, regardless of what industry you hail from.
1. Don't Forget the People
Emphasising the way your company impacts its customers paints a human picture that some mission statements simply fail to capture. Consider the Microsoft Accessibility Mission Statement:
At Microsoft, our mission is to enable people and businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential. We consider our mission statement a commitment to our customers. We deliver on that commitment by striving to create technology that is accessible to everyone—of all ages and abilities. Microsoft is one of the industry leaders in accessibility innovation and in building products that are safer and easier to use.
Notice how every sentence discusses the way Microsoft's products benefit people. If you tell a humanizing story in your mission statement, you can really show your readers how your product solves problems for your customers, and give your writing a human angle that readers can relate to.
2. Use Clichés and Buzzwords Sparingly
If you describe your tech company's product or service as 'cutting edge', you are not distinguishing yourself from the uncountable number of tech companies that have used that phrase in their mission statements for the past several decades. Skim through your statement and see if your find any cliché' terms - 'thought leaders', 'best practices', 'cloud based' - and decide if they are truly appropriate for what you are trying to describe.
Sometimes these phrases are the ones to use. But at least keep an awareness of them so you can replace them if you need to be more specific about what makes your company unique. Browse through some cliché lists in your given industry to get an idea of what's already in use.
3. Drop In Some Unexpected Words
Mission Statements are generally written in dry prose that conveys what the overall business goals of your company are. But there's nothing wrong with dropping a few unexpected adjectives into your mission statement when the occasion calls for it. Say 'dazzling' customer service, instead of 'leading' customer service. Describe a 'visionary' platform, instead of a 'superior' platform.
Try to add one or two of these kinds of words to a statement if you feel it needs some pizazz. There's no need to make the statement overly wordy - do everything in moderation. If you come across a lackluster word, type it into Google, and scroll through the synonyms. Or check out some leading thesauruses. But don't use words you've never heard before.
4. Have Another Pair of Eyes Review
Sending the mission statement to a trusted colleague is the best and quickest way to gauge your progress. A few questions to ask them:
- Are the business goals/objectives of the company clearly defined?
- Is there a sense of where the company's revenue is coming from?
- Does the statement relate how the company is impacting its customers?
- Is the company's distinctive culture conveyed?
5. Review Some Sparkling Statements
Take a look at some mission statements that really shine, and incorporate the elements you like into your own mission statement:
6. Trim the Fat
A mission statement should be brief and focused on the general business ambitions of your company. It's great to give the reader a sense of how your company impacts society at large, but make sure to avoid meandering tangents that simply take up space on the page.
When you're wondering if something might need to be cut, ask yourself:
Does this information describe the product or service my company produces?
Does it give a sense of how my company is making money?
If the information in question offers neither, ask yourself if it is truly essential to the statement. It's important to be economical with your words. Try to make each sentence advance one of the above points.