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Organizational mission statements set the tone for all decisions company managers make, providing strategic guidance and cohesiveness for the entire organization. Effective mission statements must be specific, measurable, achievable and over-arching to support the robust evolution of company culture and convey true meaning to company decision-makers. Reviewing samples of organizational mission statements that meet the criteria for effectiveness can help you create a lasting, meaningful mission statement for your company.
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The mission statement of Aflac, the personal insurance provider, reads: “To combine aggressive strategic marketing with quality products and services at competitive prices to provide the best insurance value for consumers.”
Aflac's mission is specific in that it address three unique areas of excellence: marketing, services and prices. This lets decision makers know what is most important to the company. It is measurable in that it mentions “the best insurance value,” which can be measured by comparing Aflac's services and prices against competitor pricing. Every element in the statement is achievable, and each is over-arching enough to allow managers to create their own strategies and tactics to achieve the mission.
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Micron sells semiconductor memory chips to computer manufacturers. Micron's mission statement, “Be the most efficient and innovative global provider of semiconductor solutions,” perfectly fits the definition of an effective statement.
Micron's mission is specific because it tells readers exactly what the company produces: semiconductors. The goal of being “the most efficient and innovative” is measurable, since the company can compare its cost data and the frequency of its product innovations against their competitors. The statement is over-arching enough to allow employees to apply their own techniques and set their own goals to achieve the mission.
Micron's statement is a bit lacking in the achievable category, unfortunately. While it is technically possible to be number one in the world in your industry, that is quite an ambitious goal to achieve, and the statement doesn't specify in which areas the company strives to be number one (sales, profits, customer service, etc.)
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IKON Office Solutions
IKON, which sells and leases office equipment to business customers, has instituted this effective mission statement: “Helping our customers manage document workflow and increase efficiency through best-in-class products and services. Fostering the growth and development of our employees. Providing a distinct advantage to our suppliers as a distribution channel of choice. Growing shareholder value through strong execution of our strategies.”
IKON's mission statement is extremely specific, mentioning document workflow services, employee development, distribution channel efficiency and shareholder value. All of the specific items are measurable as well, mostly through customer's financial results. All of the goals in the statement are incremental and continuous rather than absolute, making them realistically achievable. Lastly the statement is over-arching enough to allow employees a free hand in achieving the mission.
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IBM, an A-lister on the Fortune 500 list for years, provides an example of a mission statement that falls sadly short of the requirements for effectiveness. IBM's mission statement is “Operating a safe and secure government.”
Firstly, the statement does not accurately reflect the business of the company. It is not specific, since it does not specify which components of government operation it supports. It is not measurable, because “safe” and “secure” can both be defined in relative terms. It is hardly achievable; imagining that a computer components manufacturer can protect a government from things like foreign attacks and corruption is a bit unreasonable. It is definitely over-arching, but it provides so little guidance that it is virtually useless in creating lower-level strategies and tactics.
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MissionStatement.com: Fortune 500 retrieved at http://www.missionstatements.com/fortune_500_mission_statements.html
Photo Credit: sxc.hu/kristja