The creation of a mission statement is a common communication tool intended to describe the purpose of an organization. Unfortunately, most mission statements do not inspire a team, primarily because they fail to include two key elements – WHAT an organization does and WHY they do it.
Over the past 30 years, I’ve helped hundreds of organizations from all types of industries, create powerful mission statements that engage and inspire their team members by using a simple three step process.
The three essential steps to writing an inspirational mission statement include:
Step 1, Describe “WHAT” you do.
Step 2: Communicate “WHY” you do it.
Step 3: Combine your WHAT and WHY to tell a powerful story to motivate and inspire.
If you have struggled in the past to write an inspirational mission statement for your organization, then use our simple to implement, three-step system outlined below.
Step 1: Re-Thinking “WHAT” You Do
The first step in writing an inspirational mission statement that will motivate your team is to describe WHAT your organization does.
But a common mistake most leaders make when completing this step is to just describe the products or services they provide. To illustrate why this is the wrong approach, let’s use the Kodak company as an example.
The Kodak company proudly invented and patented the process of capturing images on film and strongly believed they were in the chemical business. As new and cheaper technology came along – smart phones with cameras, their market shares dramatically decreased. And instead of embracing the new technology of using software to create images, they instead, tightly held on to the belief they were in the chemical business, all the way to having to declare bankruptcy in 2012.
What they failed to realize is WHAT business they were actually in – the business of capturing life’s memories. If they had believed WHAT they did was centered around a higher-level purpose and not a product centered description, they would have embraced the new technology instead of resisting it, and would have been much more likely to ensure their long-term sustainability.
To complete step 1, work with your team over several meetings to brainstorm WHAT business you are actually in without describing the specific product or services you provide.
Step 2: Discover Your “WHY”
Next you will work with your team to discover WHY you do your WHAT. Your WHY should be inspirational and motivating. A great WHY can be thought of a problem or challenge your WHAT is trying to overcome or achieve. To illustrate this, let’s continue with the Kodak company.
As I shared prior, the more accurate description of Kodak’s WHAT is creating memories that will last a lifetime. So WHY do we take so many pictures? To re-live life’s moments of course. Writing an inspirational mission statement for Kodak, starting with the WHY, then WHAT, might look like this.
Everyone deserves the opportunity to relive and share life’s precious moments. Our mission at Kodak, is develop easy to use and affordable technology anyone can use to create memories that will last generations.
Step 3: Combine Your What and Why
Next is to order your WHAT and WHY that will create an inspiring mission statement that will engage not only your team, but your key customers and stakeholders. There is no right or wrong way which order you choose. I would encourage you to write a couple of draft mission statements reversing the order of your WHAT and WHY and see which tells a more powerful story of your organization’s purpose.
Evaluate Your Mission Statement
Writing a great mission statement takes time and always required multiple revisions to get it perfect. To help you evaluate your draft mission statement, use the following key characteristics to evaluate and improve your mission statement.
- Does it include WHAT you do?
- Does it include WHY you do it. This
- Is it short and easy to remember?
- Is it easy to understand?
- Will it inspire your team and key stakeholders?
- Is it measurable?
Links To Additional Resources
I encourage you to take advantage of these additional resources to assist you and your team in the development and successful execution of your strategy.