Every business, from a startup to a multibillion-dollar conglomerate, should have an official mission statement and values. Both are key to a company’s identity and serve as a guiding principle to the stakeholders of a business. If you’re in the process of choosing your business’s mission and values or are looking to refresh the current ones, then here are a few pointers on coming up with a good mission statement and set of values.
What’s a mission statement?
A mission statement should answer who the company is. It should tell those who read or hear the statement what is important to the business, what its philosophy is, and what its target market is. The mission statement should also answer what the company wants to be, strategically speaking. What does the company strive to become? Ideally, where would the company be in five or ten years? Stakeholders can perceive leaving out the what portion of the statement as a lack of ambition or drive, so it’s important to include it.
Take, for example, the Nike mission statement:
The above statement gives readers a good sense of the company’s philosophy. We get an idea of what’s important to Nike, what drives it, and what it strives for – all in a single concise sentence and an asterisk.
What are corporate values?
A company’s statement of its values, on the other hand, tell us how it will do business as it aims to be the company its mission statement describes.
Looking again at Nike as an example, its values – or Maxims as Nike calls them – are as follows:
With these values, employees have a guiding set of principles that clarify how they should act and what their focus is while on the job. When faced with a dilemma, all staff members from entry-level employees to top-level executives can use their company’s guidelines to steer them in the right direction.
What makes a good mission statement and set of values?
The most important factor to keep in mind when deciding on your business’s statement of its mission and values is genuineness. If your statement isn’t genuine then it won’t serve its purpose. Worse yet, it’ll make your company look confused or dishonest to stakeholders. Imagine if Walmart’s mission statement wasn’t “We save people money so they can live better,” but was “We offer people high quality products so they can live better.” No one would be fooled. Customers looking for quality items would be disappointed when their new Walmart dining room table begins to wobble, and customers looking for competitive prices would go elsewhere. Suppliers would be confused as well.
Another important factor is accessibility. A statement that isn’t made readily available is ineffective. The mission and values should be posted on your business’s website on an easy to find page. Presenting the mission and values to new employees and putting up values posters around the workplace is another option. That way, internal stakeholders know what to strive for in their work and how to go about doing it, and external stakeholders know what to expect when dealing with your business.
What else makes an effective mission statement and set of values? Let us know @NapkinBetaBeyond.