I should qualify. What makes great mission statements powerful?
Those are ones that great brands and businesses create (see What Great Brands Do With Mission Statements: 8 Examples). They come from the heart and capture the higher purpose of the organization.
Why makes them so effective?
Great statements are alive. They are part of the culture. They are reference points for strategic decisions. They represent the essence of what the company is about. They also enable the company to generate consistent and long-term value for customers. That's what makes them powerful.
The first time I came face-to-face with one such great brand and organization was in 2007 when I heard Dan Bane, the CEO of Trader Joe's speak. (See Trader Joe's - Where Values Drive The Brand which details the company's values.) He explained how the company had deliberately walked away from a profitable venture because it was not strategic to the company. Imagine!
Great mission statements provide focus and simplicity to everyone in the organization. That in turn trickles into the content, the attitude, the online presence and real life interactions. It makes your business stand out. That's a real plus in our noisy, messy world where most companies shout too loud, listen very little while people crave to be heard and respected.
When I visited corporate headquarters of Zappos, another great brand and company, I felt the energy; it was palpable, genuine and intensely customer focused.
- Zappos: Where Happy Employees Deliver
- Zappos Embodies Customer Service
- Zappos & Service
- Zappos Uses Social To Share Culture
What makes a powerful statement of mission?
In addition to being "clear, memorable, and concise" (see 50 Example Mission Statements from the Top NonProfits), great statements remain evergreen. They aren't created and then locked up in a drawer. They are a living part of the company's culture and provide consistent guidance for all customer interactions - from voice to content to everything in between.
Forget The Mission Statement. What's Your Mission Question? recommends asking questions so as to remain focused on what's most critical to your business because "Questions ... can provide a reality check on whether or not a business is staying true to what it stands for and aims to achieve." More specifically,
- Why are we here in the first place?
- What does the world need that we are uniquely able to provide?
- What are we willing to sacrifice?
- What matters more than money?
- Are we all on this mission together?
What comes after mission statements?
If you haven't already, go ahead and create one. Then refer to it in all that you do. Make it a source of focus and simplicity for your company -- your content, your website, your people interactions.
You are in business to provide people with helpful and valued solutions. As "Forget the Mission Statement What's Your Mission Question?" explains,
"...it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture when company leaders start caring too much about quarterly financial results. "The reality is, shareholder value or stock price is not something you can create anyway," Shaich maintains. "It’s a by-product that only happens if you make a difference in people’s lives." And you can only do that, he adds, by continually asking mission-related questions— about what truly matters to you as a company and what’s needed in the marketplace or the larger world."
What's yours? Does it provide your business with focus and simplicity? How has it helped you with your strategy? How does it help you provide value?
Here's resource you'll find helpful as you dive in: 31 Amazing (and a Few Awful) Company Mission Statement Examples You Can Sink Your Teeth Into.