Why Most Mission Statements Suck So Bad

We aim to be the #1 pencil manufacturer by proactively enhancing our viability with the highest profit, while visualizing a world where we own everything. Blecchh…

This month in our 3to5Clubs around the world, we’ve been covering how to develop a 2pg Strategic Plan, with a focus on the Vision and Mission statements (two very different things). We advise biz leadership, “When constructing a Mission Statement, be suspicious of any word with three or more syllables, especially those containing the letters U through Z.” Weird Al Yankovich’s song, “Mission Statement” demonstrates this perfectly.

Following are some of the lyrics – notice the “plethora” of fancy three-syllable words containing U through Z. Most corporate Mission Statements sound just like his song—sanitized, arrogant, and completely out of touch with the real world. For contrast, here’s one great Mission Statement by Fairmont Hotels.

“Turning moments into memories.”

Simple, elegant, emotional, down to earth, and focused on the RESULT the customer will get from engaging with them. They are not playing Business Buzzword Bingo like most companies do when constructing their Mission Statements.

There are tons of 3-6 syllable buzzwords in the song containing U through Z- fancy words, not useful ones. Play the song itself while you read the lyrics, below.

We must all efficiently
Operationalize our strategies
Invest in world-class technology
And leverage our core competencies
In order to holistically administrate
Exceptional synergy
We’ll set a brand trajectory
Using management’s philosophy
Advance our market share vis—vis
Our proven methodology
With strong commitment to quality
Effectively enhancing corporate synergy
Transitioning our company
By awareness of functionality
Promoting viability
Providing our supply chain with diversity (versity, ooooh)
We will distill our identity
Through client-centric solutions and synergy (oooooh oooh oooh)

If you don’t think this is funny, you need to take a good, long look at your Mission Statement and get someone outside your organization to help you reconstruct it.

Our Mission Statement:

We provide tools for business leaders to a) make more money in less time, b) get off the treadmill, and c) get back to the passion that brought them into business in the first place.

Not a single three syllable word containing U through Z (actually no three syllable words at all). We’re in good company – the New York Times is written at the fifth grade level because it makes it easy to read.

Take another look at ours and Fairmont’s mission statements. Good mission statements:

1) Don’t talk about the company

2) Never include a mention of “process” – how you do stuff (nobody cares how you make your chair)

3) Focus solely on the RESULT the customer will get from working with you

4) Share the result as an “Outcome” – an authentic result expressed emotionally. Everybody buys emotionally – everybody.

Is your Mission Statement about you or your customer? Are you trying to sound smart, sophisticated and complex? You are more likely to get there by working hard to be simple, unpretentious, and “plain”, and by focusing on the result you will get your customer – nothing else.
The profound things are always simple. If your Mission Statement isn’t simple, it’s probably not profound, either. Give it another go!

Article as seen on Inc.com