Condensing to One Sentence Can Be a Great Way to Focus
Whether you run your own company, help to govern a company or non-profit, or are in the process of getting one or the other off the ground, your organization’s mission statement can be a key tool in guiding decision-making and orienting your organization and your brand around your mission.
But, a poorly written, overly long, vague, or unfocused mission statement does little for your organization. The best mission statements are succinct and yet they get across not only the organization’s goals, but the philosophical underpinnings on which it is built (or to be built).
How then to write a well-balanced, yet succinct mission statement that hits all the necessary points without going overboard? How do you get your mission statement refined enough that it can exist in one powerhouse of a sentence.
Before you say that it can’t be done, or that one sentence couldn’t possibly contain all the necessary information about your organization’s philosophy and goals while saying something about what makes your organization special, consider how long this sentence is and how much information it conveys.
The Golden Mean and Why You Should Stay Away From It
The Golden Mean philosophically speaking is the ideal center place between two extremes. It is a place of moderation and it is exactly where you don’t want your mission statement to live. There are many web articles, blog posts, and books from various business and entrepreneurial thought leaders that will give you a laundry list of everything that should go into your mission statement.
When following one of these guru’s advice it can be all too tempting to come up with a list of every attribute that makes your organization what it is. Then when you hear that in order to focus your efforts as an organization you need to focus your mission, your natural reaction might be to just trim a few things and call it an exercise in moderation. There is no room for moderation in crafting an effective mission statement. Now is the time to go for the lean extreme.
Mission Creep and Trimming the Fat
People have a tendency to push for the initiatives and pet projects that they are most invested in personally, regardless of their potential impact on the direction of the organization they are working within.
Only when confronted by someone without a direct investment in their project do they begin to search for a way to align it with mission or values of the organization.
A well-crafted, tight, succinct mission statement that leaves little room for interpretation can help your organization avoid mission creep driven by the best of intentions, as well as politics and in-fighting. Trim any and all extraneous fat from your mission, save it for marketing descriptions.
Burn Down the Mission and Rebuild It From Scratch
So, even if you’re perfectly happy with the mission statement your organization already has, consider taking the time to throw it out and engage in the exercise of building a new, tighter, more economical, single-sentence version from scratch.
Even if you have no intention of replacing or removing a single word from what you already have, the exercise of trying to rewrite one as tightly as possible can have tremendous value as it forces you to seriously consider what is essential and what is superfluous not only in your mission, but in your organization as well.