Your Mission Statement Sucks
A great corporate mission statement can inspire employees to do their best work and provide a sense of direction for the company. To this end, it should be clear, concise, and easy to understand. It should also be specific enough to provide a target for the company to aim for, but not so specific — still maintaining an aspiration component — that it becomes difficult to achieve.
But most mission statements suck.
According to a study by the Boston Consulting Group, only 30 percent of mission statements are effective at inspiring employees. The majority of statements are generic and filled with empty words and phrases. This can make it difficult for employees to understand what the company stands for and what it is trying to achieve. Yet companies still search for those few words (yes, something those long paragraphs) that ignite passion and enthusiasm across a staff that is often diverse and driven by vastly different motivations.
Today, we live in a world of customer-centricity, perhaps even employee-centricity. It’s an environment where the individual voice and unique expression of self can drive (or force) the submission of a company, already precariously teetering on the precipice of cancel culture, to belly up to a new mission that often changes with the wind. And that’s no mission statement at all.
Interestingly, the best mission statement that I know may have never really existed! It’s a myth, but one that gained some traction in the marketing community. “Beat Coke” is a two-word phrase that lives in the mythical marketing world that many use as an example of a simple and powerful mission statement.
But there is a hint of truth to this. I spoke with John Sculley, the former President of PepsiCo, about the myth of “beat Coke” and how it was a reflection of a corporate reality.
“Pepsi was a VERY competitive culture. We were the under dogs and Coke was outselling us 10:1. Our culture supported innovation across disciplines. While many reference the Pepsi Challenge as a turning point, it was actually more fundamental innovations including the 2 liter plastic bottle and our use of Bar Code scanning on consumer packaging that…