Will your Mission statement help your organization to change?

Author: Nancy S. Ahlrichs, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Post-COVID-19 organizations will not look like they did in January 2020. Most organizations will restructure and make enough other changes that they not only will need a new strategic plan but also a new mission statement. Of the two, development of the mission statement must come first. Without either affirmation of the existing mission statement or rewriting the mission to reflect new realities, the new strategic plan will be without focus.

Your organization’s mission statement shapes everything from your strategy to your public image to your culture. Revisiting and rewriting your mission provides an opportunity to re-energize your employees and your customers.

Traditionally, when developing your mission statement, it has been important to balance between your organization’s public image and internal culture. Today, it is equally important to weave in the expectation of continued change and the resilience and/or ongoing innovative response of your employees. 

Few organizations have an internal facilitator with sufficient experience to lead the discussions needed to develop a new mission statement and strategic plan. Most organizations want every leader to contribute to the discussions, so they engage an outside consultant with experience to draw out every leader’s best ideas even after months of tumult.

There are three elements of a great mission statement: a cause or who you serve, what you do, and your impact. In some cases, one or more elements are implied (consider Nike’s “Just do it”). Three examples of motivating missions include:

  • InvisionApp: Question Assumptions. Think Deeply. Iterate as a Lifestyle. Details, Details. Design is Everywhere. Integrity.
  • American Express: We work hard every day to make American Express the world's most respected service brand.
  • Universal Health Services, Inc.: To provide superior quality healthcare services that: PATIENTS recommend to family and friends, PHYSICIANS prefer for their patients, PURCHASERS select for their clients, EMPLOYEES are proud of, and INVESTORS seek for long-term returns.

Your mission statement determines your new beginning, your growth, and your future. Short or long, it must be easy to say, free of jargon, emotionally stirring and actionable. Test whatever you develop by crowdsourcing opinions from people who do not know your organization and its cause. Do they get it? Does it make them want to work there or buy your products or services? Can they repeat it to you? If not, it is probably too long and needs more work.

Take the time to test your current mission. Will it enable the changed organization that you must become? Does it fit the new strategic plan that must be written? If not, your organization needs a new mission statement!

Nancy S. Ahlrichs, SPHR, SHRM-SCP works with Progression Partners, a national leadership development and management consulting firm, as an Organization Development Advisor for change and talent management strategies.

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