Revive Your Mission Statement with these Three Questions (Part I)

Mission to Mission Statement

Part I: Revive Your Mission Statement with these Three Questions

This is part of a short series on mission and vision statements. 

I have a vivid childhood memory of being in a car with my dad, driving down a highway in Texas. We drove past a restaurant chain well known for its breakfast offering – so well known for breakfast that the name of a breakfast food is in its name. There was a huge sign in the window advertising their newest menu item: t-bone steaks.

“You know you’ve gone down the wrong path with your business when [insert name of restaurant here] is making t-bone steaks!” my dad proclaimed.

Clearly, my dad didn’t think that was a food item this restaurant should try to prepare; in other words, he didn’t think it met their breakfast-serving mission and doubted it would be a successful endeavor.

Guiding your company away from such menu horrors is part of the mission statement’s purpose. It’s more than a nice sentiment to engrave on a plaque or post on your website; it should feel true to your business and be a statement that guides your work and your goals.

In communications, we often use a client’s mission statement to inform how we position stories for outside audiences, such as the media, to ensure the stories are a true reflection of the company – stories that set them apart from their competition and highlight their strengths.

If your company has a mission statement that is collecting dust, it’s probably time to revisit and breathe some new life into it. Here are some questions to consider to help give your statement a backbone:

Does your mission statement represent your work?

While mission statements should be fairly constant, you don’t have to think of it as something that’s written in stone. If your company truly has changed direction, or broadened its scope, reevaluating your statement is an important way to ensure your company and its employees are working toward a clearly defined and authentic purpose.

Re-writing your mission statement is a great opportunity to get buy-in from key stakeholders, and ensure it’s something everyone feels is accurate.

Does it inspire your employees?

A mission statement shouldn’t be a rote recitation of what your company does. It should be aspirational. A box manufacturer could have an inspiring mission that addresses their customers’ needs, as well as their own environmental impact: Our boxes help our customers safely and efficiently contain and ship their products so they can meet their business goals, all while we minimize the impact of our operations and materials on the environment.

Does your mission ever see the light of day?

A mission statement needs its employees to breathe life into it. Start your company’s big employee meeting with a reading of the mission statement, and a reflection on current events that fall in line with that mission. One of our clients even created a wallet card for employees to carry with them that highlights the company’s mission, vision and values. These are just a few ways your mission statement can be a living and breathing part of your organization and its culture.

In part II, we’ll talk about how to approach your mission statement and Lilja’s experience of recently revisiting our own.