When you know your purpose, mission, and values, you can make good decisions quickly. The first step in knowing your roots is to discover and clarify what they are. Consider these definitions.
Vision: This is your higher purpose. It is your why, the reason your organization exists. This primary root goes deep to the water source and provides energy to keep growing when the short term is dry. It is a clear picture of the new future you intend to create.
Mission: The practical way to move toward the vision. This is what we commonly see as business— building houses, repairing cars, or baking cakes.
Core Values: Priorities for decision making that everyone needs to follow so the vision and the mission can be realized. Core Value roots spread wide and stabilize the organization in the daily winds of external influence. These values are the foundation on which we perform work and conduct ourselves, the deeply ingrained principles that guide all actions.
How to Write a Mission Statement
What is the difference between “pie in the sky” and “boots on the ground”? The last Confidence in Crisis article explained how to create a vision statement. Your vision statement should be “pie in the sky”— lofty and difficult to attain, even idealist or unrealistic. Your mission statement is the exact opposite. It is “boots on the ground”. It is the practical things you will do every day to move toward the vision.
Times of crisis call us to reconsider the basics. Vision and mission statements are basic leadership tools. They are part of the framework for good business decision making. Good decision making is important all the time but especially in a crisis.
The mission statement tells us what the business is doing, while, like we learned last week, the vision statement gives the reason why we are in business. Clearly communicating the “what” and the “why” are key to strong leadership. We all want to know what to do and why we should do it.
A mission statement gives a bird’s eye view of the work you engage in. It helps to keep you focused on doing the “right” work. If you have been in business very long, you have faced distractions from your core business. For example, a long term ideal customer walks into an automotive repair shop. “My compact tractor isn’t running right. Could you take a look at that for me? I have it out here on the trailer.” At first, you might think this is an opportunity. Good work is falling into your lap. Yes, it is good work for someone, but is it good work for you?
Chances are excellent that, if you take this project on, frustrations will result. It may take longer than it should to diagnose the problem. You may not have the best connections to source the parts. Or your employee might make a mistake that will make the problem worse. Projects outside your core business often have hidden costs that are difficult to determine upfront.
Your mission statement should clarify the scope of your business. It doesn’t need to be detailed, but it needs to be clear enough to define your core competency.
You might remember that committing to your vision statement requires you to say “yes” to one thing and say “no” to many things. The same is true for your mission statement. Saying “yes” to automotive repair might mean saying “no” to repairing garden tractors, farm tractors, motorcycles, ATVs, RVs, etc. However, you may want to serve some or all of these needs. Just remember that the broader your scope the less proficient you will be in any one thing. A narrow focus allows you to create a very high value service with less effort.
How do you choose that one thing? Consider these questions.
- What talents do you and your team collectively have?
- Where have you added high value without it feeling like hard work?
- What industry connections do you have?
- Does your vision statement require you to serve a certain target market?
- What industry or market will help you achieve your vision in the best possible way?
- How will the work you do every day fulfill the vision?
Your choice of scope should be within your skills and interests. Passion for your work is an important ingredient to success.
Your mission should also directly connect to fulfilling your vision. For example, if your vision is to “Put a smile on every child’s face” then automotive repair work wouldn’t be an ideal fit. Running a daycare center, a private school, or manufacturing toys would be much more effective.
Look for the intersection of your work passion and your vision. That is mission statement territory.
What a Mission Statement is Not
- A mission statement is not an annual goal or annual plan.
- A mission statement is not changed in every other annual planning session.
- A mission statement is not vague or general.
- A mission statement is not something you should copy from your competitor or friend and edit to make your own.
- A mission statement is not something in the future.
What a Mission Statement Is
- A mission statement is a description of the products or services you provide.
- A mission statement reveals the industry you are in.
- A mission statement contains the foundation of a business plan.
- A mission statement gives a bird’s eye view of your core business activity.
- A mission statement reveals how the vision will be accomplished.
- A mission statement defines your scope of work.
- A mission statement describes how you add value to the world.
- A mission statement is something you can go to work on today.
- A mission statement helps you prioritize your “to do” list.
You need to have your vision and mission properly aligned. Then, the better you do at executing your mission, the more your vision will become a reality.
How’s Your Mission?
Pebbles Family Buffet’s mission statement is this: Pebbles Family Restaurant welcomes guests “home” to enjoy the comfort of homestyle food in a relaxed and refreshing atmosphere. Their vision statement is: A reflection of a contented family living by the Truth. Can you see how employees who fulfill their mission statement every day are also making their vision a reality?
In the COVID-19 crisis, many of us have questioned if we should change the scope of work that we are doing. Some businesses have needed to take on very different types of work just to keep employees busy or to provide the necessary cash flow to sustain the business financially. Others have been so busy they are wondering if they should cut out some products or services.
Business leaders who are crystal clear on their mission are better prepared to make wise choices in crisis. Maybe a short term diversion is necessary to ride out the storm. However, as soon as possible, we need to steer back to our central mission. We should be asking how we can use the crisis to advance our mission? If diversions are necessary in the short term, try to find a way to create long term benefits to your mission.
After your business has stabilized again, how will you pivot back to your mission? Or, how will you make this a stepping stone to executing your mission better than ever?
Writing and committing to a mission statement is not a walk in the park. Though, you might need a few of those to get you through the process. Be patient. Be persistent. Push on it till you get to clarity.
We are still offering our free Root Development Guide. Please feel free to download it to help you get clarity on your business roots. Click here or reply to this email.
What questions do you have about how to write your mission statement? Reply to this email, and I will answer your questions or give you some tips to help you write your mission statement.
In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge. Proverbs 14:36 KJV