Why Your Mission Statement Defines Your Company’s Purpose

Jan. 13, 2014
Ask your key leaders and employees the same question: “What do we do for a living?” If their answers differ, you have some work to do.

Our company slows down a little during this time of year. Clients seem to be planning their budgets for the New Year or projects start to get underway and our services are not yet needed. I always like this time because it gives us a chance to “catch our breath” and catch up on all the things that we can’t focus on when we are busy. It’s a good time of year to revisit your mission statement and ensure that everyone is pointing in the same direction.

Last month I wrote about values; more specifically about the purpose of a corporation’s values and the unwavering value structure and definition that each corporation should have. A corporation’s values are the heart and soul of the organization and rarely, if ever, should change.

On the other hand, your mission may change as a company’s strategic direction, economic conditions, market pressures, or some other shift nudge an organization on a different path. As a recent example, the FBI (yes, that FBI) changed its mission statement to revise its raison d’être from “law enforcement” to “national security.” A subtle change, but one that better reflects the agency’s direction and mandate.

The mission statement is often defined as the purpose of a company’s existence or reason for being. As an exercise, ask key leaders in your organization, “What do we do for a living?” Compare their answers. Are they each saying the same thing? They should be. If you really want to scare yourself, ask your employees the same question and compare their answer to your leaders' answers. If the answers that you have received aren’t the same, you have work to do. Use their answers as a starting point to revise your mission statement.

Some things to consider when reviewing your mission statement:

  • Who is your target client, industry, etc.? To whom are we selling our services?
  • Does your mission reflect how you feel about your employees? What do you expect of them and what should they expect of you?
  • Can your competition say the same thing? How are you unique? Are you unique?
  • Is the mission clear and concise? Will everyone “get it?”

Once written, make sure everyone understands the mission and is on board. Perhaps the most important part of reviewing or writing your mission statement is sharing it with others.

Stephen Blank is chief executive officer of Loman Control Systems Inc., a certified member of the Control System Integrators Association based in Lititz, Pa. He has a bachelor of fine arts degree and is an electrical engineer.

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