Brand Work

Mission (Statement) Accomplished

Given what we do, we see a lot of mission and vision statements. We don’t see many that strike us as very clear or useful, however—in part, maybe, because there’s no end of confusion between the two. I’ll save that topic for another day. For now, I’d like to simply zero in on the mission statement. We’re often asked by struggling clients for some key insight into what a good mission statement is. I’ve been reading Winning, by Jack Welch, lately, and his answer to the question seems as good as any: A good mission statement answers the question, “How do we intend to win in this business?”

Add a dash of impossible. By making a profit? No argument there. But how? By connecting with customers of course. And how do we do that? As Jack points out, customers don’t just buy the product, they want to buy into the product. Therefore, Jack looks for a good Mission Statement to do a little something more: to blend the concrete and the aspirational. By striking a balance between the possible and the impossible, he says, a company can give people a clear sense of the direction to profitability and the inspiration to feel they are a part of something big and important.

We can’t help but think of storytelling in this light. We tell stories to pass on information, but that information rarely sticks unless it is first carefully coated with inspiration. And a good mission statement must do the same.

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