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How To Create An Effective Mission Statement

In my videos, blogs, and other posts I’ve emphasized how important it is for every member of the team to understand the mission and how they fit into that mission’s success. But how do create an effective mission statement?

Be clear about what the mission (or purpose) statement should define. A good mission statement will state what the team or company does and why it does that. So, to create a good mission statement you need to examine those two components.

  • What the team does.

You might find it difficult to believe, but many teams cannot state what the team actually does. Each team member may be able to say what they do individually, but they can’t clearly say what the team really does as a whole. Often I find this is because the team has been together for a while and has lost the understanding of what they were originally chartered to do. As the leader, you need to be able to define what the team is supposed to be doing. You may find that this step alone will help refocus the team and improve its operation.

Define this in broad terms. It’s easy to get bogged down in the minutia of everyday activity so make sure you’re looking at a bigger picture than just individual actions.

  • Why the team exists.

You’ve defined what the team does, now explore why. It’s the reason for the what. Be very honest in defining the why. If what the team does involves making more money, don’t be shy about that. As a devoted capitalist, I think it’s important to admit that companies exist to be successful and make a profit. However, dig a little deeper than just the profit motive. Even though profit is certainly an economic driver, it is only a representation of the value of what you defined above: the what. The why of your mission is a description of the value of what you provide.

Once you’ve defined what you do and why you do it you’re ready to craft a mission statement. Take a little time on this. You won’t get it right the first time. The statement should define both what and why but can do that in few words. For example, The Daedalus Group’s mission is:

Give supervisors and managers tools to become more effective leaders leading more productive teams.
The “what” is, give supervisors and managers tools. The “why” is to help them become more effective leaders leading more productive teams.

Each member must know the mission and their part in making it happen so the statement should be short enough to be memorable.

A short mission statement is important but you will need a little more fidelity for the team’s planning process. In fact, you may notice that the mission statement does not define how the team does what it does. That’s for goal setting later in the planning process. But those goals are based on the mission statement. That’s why you should include Key Result Areas or KRAs. KRAs define some specific areas that must be addressed to insure mission success. When creating goals, tie them directly to those KRAs to make sure the goals you set are really necessary for mission accomplishment. KRAs are an adjunct to the mission statement but need not be included when posting or expressing it.

So, what’s your team’s mission?

For videos of this and many more leadership tips go to Bob’s YouTube channel.

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