You can always bet, that what happens in vagueness…stays in vagueness. Especially when defining your company’s mission statement.
Managers typically pride themselves in letting the details sort themselves out with their teams, but be very careful in confusing operational details with mission details. Leadership should establish the guiding light that make sure their teams stay on target over the years.
Having a clearly defined mission statement and purpose will a least give your teams the ability to discern what fits and what does not.
A well developed mission statement should be product or market agnostic so it will allow to be carried forward irregardless to shifts in the market place.
Google has a well defined mission statement: “Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
For a contrasting mission statement that directly reflect recent history, take a look at Apple’s current mission statement: “Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.”
Vs. during Steve Job’s influence, “To make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind.”
On the surface, it may seem that Apple’s current statement is more precise than Steve Job’s version, however, I would argue Job’s version would allow the company to navigate any changes in the marketplace. Not to mention, Job’s mission brought more enthusiasm to the table.
Apple’s current mission statement talks about all its current products. However, this would mean that the emphasis is given to the products over the mission of the company.
What if the market leads to the eventual convergence of the ipod with either the iphone or ipad, for example? This is much the same trap Kodak set for itself by stubbornly holding onto film processing while the digital revolution left the company in the waste bin.
If you look at Google’s mission statement as better example, its see its efforts in organizing the world’s information which may result in many different products or services. All of those products and services could move their independent life cycles without effecting the direction of the company. But still it offer’s the entire company a guiding light to focus on.
What are your thoughts on the importance of the mission statement?