Jack Welch, in his book, Winning, talks about how to create great mission statements.
He says most mission statements are dull, uninspired, and even unhelpful. Most groups write their mission statement to describe only what they are in business to do. While this is not wrong, it creates a whole bunch of mission statements that all look the same among competitors, and are not really valuable.
Welch suggests that a good mission statement not only describes what the company is in business to do, but how they are going to succeed at it.
For example, "We are going to sell lots of chickens," is not as effective as "we are going to sell lots of chickens by growing the largest free-range chickens and advertising their value to the industry."
Following his logic, I did some research and found some interesting comparisons:
Ford Motor Company in Europe's mission statement (couldn't find the U.S. mission statement anywhere online) is:
"Our Mission: we are a global, diverse family with a proud heritage, passionately committed to providing outstanding products and services."
OK, so Ford's mission is noble, but there is no explanation as to how they will succeed at their mission. Compare this to Toyota's mission statement:
"To sustain profitable growth by providing the best customer experience and dealer support."
Toyota's mission statement expresses their intention to make money by providing the best customer experience and dealer support.
Indeed, their mission statement tells what they are doing and how they will succeed. This is an example of an effective mission statement.
There is a business principle at hand here: Ambiguity is the enemy to progress. It's nice Ford wants to provide outstanding products and services, but there is no formula or direction given in their mission statement as to how they plan to do this.
Toyota states it will succeed by providing the best customer experience and dealer support. Are they succeeding at this?
In 2007, Toyota became the largest seller of cars in America. As customers, we vote with our money. It seems then, that they are providing the best customer experience, and are fulfilling their mission statement.
On a lighter note, Enron's mission statement is/was:
"Respect, Integrity, Communication and Excellence."
Mike J y