Is your mission statement ‘strange’?
Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, has been reinventing the company. Now he’s announced a new mission statement that’s being called "strange."
Most mission statements are superficial mush. They’re an obligation, like having EXIT signs. The majority of companies post a variation of: "Our mission is to be the preferred supplier in our chosen market place." If they’re on an aggressive growth path, "dominant" is substituted for "preferred." This retailer illustrates the point: "We intend to be the dominant supplier of auto parts in our market areas by…" This is the template for almost all retailers. The sheer majesty of it makes you feel all tingly doesn’t it?
You can write your "mission" on one of two levels. The economic level — the nomos — is about numbers, size and things easily measured. This is what too many think work is all about. The sad thing is we mistakenly label that as "purpose." Look, no one has market share or gross profit margin stats carved into their gravestone.
The other level is ecological — the logos — the "word"; your deepest meaning; what really holds your life together and tells everyone why you are taking up space on this planet. It’s about what good your company is doing.
Microsoft’s original mission was economic: "A computer on every desk and in every home." It’s been changed to: "Our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more." — a more ecological mission. That’s why some think it’s "strange." We’re conditioned to focus on profit not purpose.
Is your organization’s "mission" economic or ecological? Here are a few suggestions out of a much longer list as to how you can put enduring power into your mission.
- Make your mission ecological by asking how your organization is making the world a better place. What delights you about the work? What makes it an awesome privilege?
- Write your ecological mission from the customer’s point of view. The customer doesn’t care about you dominating the marketplace. Show your mission statement to a customer and they should gasp in awe and blurt out, "That’s what I want too!" It doesn’t get any better than having your customers want what you want.
- Of course, financial issues are vital! If we don’t make money we don’t have a business. But here’s how to align purpose and profit: make your mission ecological and your goals economic.
The energy we need to be successful is found in our purpose. When we get our ecological, higher purpose right, the economics will follow. Peak purpose always precedes peak performance.
What do you think makes a strong mission statement? How should mission statements differ, if at all, for retailers versus companies that supply and provide services for them?